Landmark Election: NC, PDP Lock Horns in Srinagar in First Post-Article 370 Lok Sabha Vote

Landmark Election: NC, PDP Lock Horns in Srinagar in First Post-Article 370 Lok Sabha Vote

  • There are 24 candidates from various parties, including NC’s Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, PDP’s Waheed Ur Rehman Parra and Apni Party’s Muhammad Ashraf Mir, and Independents in the fray

  • A total of 17,47,810 people are eligible for voting across 2,135 polling booths in Srinagar

  • National Conference’s Mehdi pitted against PDP’s Parra

  • BJP not in fray after decades

As Srinagar enters a crucial electoral battle on May 13, marking the first Lok Sabha poll in a Valley seat after the August 2019 abrogation of Article 370 by the BJP-led Centre, it is for the first time in decades that the BJP has not fielded any candidate from the Srinagar constituency.

The abrogation of Article 370 had stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, leading to its division into two Union Territories. Later, a delimitation exercise was carried out despite opposition from political parties.

The delimitation commission recommendations in 2022 altered the boundary of the Srinagar constituency. The constituency now comprises five districts, including Srinagar, Pulwama, Budgam, Ganderbal and Shopian.

Established in 1962, the Srinagar parliamentary seat, has 21 Assembly segments and over 17.4 lakh voters. Traditionally, it has been a stronghold of the National Conference. In 2019, the party chief and former Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, had secured victory from this seat.

Prior to him, his son Omar Abdullah and mother Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah have also been the MPs from here. The Congress party is the sole national party that has been able to clinch the Srinagar seat, with Ghulam Mohammad Mir Magami emerging victorious in the 1996 election. However, in recent years, other political entities have made significant strides in the region. For instance, in 2014, Tariq Hameed Karra of the PDP successfully captured the seat.

There are 24 candidates from various parties and Independent groups in the fray, including NC’s Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, PDP’s Waheed Ur Rehman Parra and Apni Party’s Muhammad Ashraf Mir.

In the present election, the main contest is between the NC and PDP candidates. Aga Ruhullah, backed by the NC and Congress, has been critical of Article 370 revocation, vowing to restore “lost dignity”. Aga has a huge following among Shia voters as well and is respected among all political sections, giving him an edge.

PDP’s Parra is focusing on the issues of youth, their arrests and the “dignity” of Kashmiris post-Article 370. He is banking upon votes from Pulwama, Tral and Shopian areas and the PDP believes high turnout in these area could bring the PDP in a strong position.

To ensure fairness, the government has imposed restrictions from May 11 to May 13, prohibiting unlawful assemblies, processions, rallies and public meetings related to the elections. A total of 17,47,810 voters are enrolled for phase IV, including 8,75,938 male and 8,71,808 female voters, alongside 64 third-gender electorates. Voting will occur across 2,135 polling stations, with ample facilities for voters, including those with disabilities and senior citizens.

The BJP’s absence from three Kashmir seats for the first time in decades has drawn criticism, with the NC and PDP calling the Apni Party a BJP “proxy”, charges are denied by the latter.

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