Farooq Positive Despite Low Turn-out In Valley

7 May 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah exuded confidence that there will be a good voter turn-out in Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency, where polling began on a dull note amid an explosion at a polling booth. 'I expect good turn out and NC will win,' Abdullah, who is contesting from the constituency, told reporters after casting his vote at Sonawar on Thursday. Accompanied by his wife and dressed in white Khandress and black vast coat, Abdullah said he is not scared at the low turn-out of voters in the first two hours. 'Not at all, people will come out to vote in large numbers and at the end of the day there will be a good turn-out,' he said. Asked who will form the next government at the centre, the National Conference president said, 'UPA has a better chance to form the government. It is a secular front, progressive and has mass support'. Referring to the 50-hour strike and the poll boycott call given by separatists and the incident where a petrol bomb was lobbed at a polling booth before voting began, Abdullah said, 'People who do this will get nothing out of it. I don't think people of the valley are scared. They have been going through such type of things for the past 20 years'. Abdullah said 'these tactics will not change anything on the ground. They have to say goodbye to the strikes and finally they will have to come on the negotiating table for a resolution of the Kashmir issue'. 'We are not mediators,' he shot back when a reporter said both factions of Hurriyat Conference have rejected his offer of facilitating talks with the centre after the formation of the government at the centre. The former chief minister said that the Hurriyat leaders should follow the footsteps of Chairman of Peoples Conference Sajad Ghani Lone, who is contesting election from Baramulla parliamentary constituency. 'Hurriyat leaders should leave strikes and follow Sajad... who is contesting the elections', he said. Abdullah asserted that people in Kashmir want peace, progress and employment. Minutes later Abdullah's younger sister Suriya Mattoo came to cast her vote along with her husband, A M Mattoo.