No 'safe Seat' For Abdullahs

19 May 2014
Rising Kashmir
Faisul Yaseen

Srinagar: The Abdullah trio - Omar, Farooq and Mustafa Kamal - is in a spot about contesting Assembly polls scheduled later this year as none of the seats they used to contest from are safe anymore. In the past, Abdullahs have contested LA polls from Ganderbal, Sonawar and Hazratbal but in all the three assembly segments, ruling National Conference (NC) conceded lead to opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Ganderbal used to be a stronghold of NC until Qazi Muhammad Afzal created a major upset in 2002 LA polls, defeating Omar Abdullah. Omar won back the seat in 2008, becoming the 11th and the youngest chief minister Jammu and Kashmir. Omar's grandfather and former Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, and his father and three-time chief minister, Farooq Abdullah had nursed Ganderbal constituency since 1975. Sheikh Abdullah fought LA polls from Ganderbal in 1975 when he returned to mainstream politics after 22 years. On August 8, 1953, Sheikh had been dismissed from the position of Prime Minister and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was appointed as the new prime minister while Sheikh was jailed and exiled. After Sheikh's death in 1982, his son and Omar's father, Farooq fought and won the 1983, 1987 and 1996 polls from Ganderbal. In the recently held parliamentary polls in the State, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah conceded a lead of 2913 votes to PDP in his home assembly segment of Ganderbal where PDP polled 13,220 votes against NC's 10,307 votes. In Sonawar, which was first represented by NC President Farooq Abdullah in 2008 but later by Yasin Shah after Farooq was elected to the parliament, NC conceded a lead of 3168 votes polling 4094 votes against PDP's 7262 votes. In Hazratbal assembly segment, which is represented by chief minister's uncle Mustafa Kamal, NC conceded a lead of 5907 votes with PDP polling 9073 votes against NC's 3176 votes. Talking to Rising Kashmir, Kamal said Omar, Farooq and he would continue to contest from Ganderbal, Sonawar and Hazratbal constituencies respectively and give the opposition a drubbing. 'In the last parliamentary polls too I had conceded a lead of around 3700 votes but later won the Assembly polls by a margin of 1700 votes,' he said. However, PDP chief spokesman and MLC Naeem Akhtar said there were no safe seats for Abdullahs now. 'They can find a safe seat in Pakistan administered Kashmir and should fight from there as our Assembly has 25 seats reserved for the other side of Kashmir,' he said. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said he would prefer to migrate to Pakistan than holding back from opposing BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. 'BJP says that Modi's detractors should go to Pakistan. Thanks to Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus I don't have to go via Delhi. I can board a bus from here directly,' Omar had said in his address at Verinag and Kokernag rallies. 'Let me make it clear, I won't stop talking against Modi and if prevented would prefer to board the bus and go to Pakistan,' Omar had said flanked by Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Saifuddin Soz, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Peerzada Sayeed and Nasir Aslam Wani while they were campaigning for Mehboob Beg in south Kashmir.