Enthusiastic Kashmiris in Doda wait for polling day

November 27th, 2008 - 9:36 am ICT by IANS  

Doda (Jammu and Kashmir), Nov 27 (IANS) Slogans, posters and rallies have heated up the election scene here. Inspired by the enthusiastic voter turnout in Kashmir Valley in the first two phases of the assembly polls, inhabitants of this mountainous belt northeast of Jammu are eagerly awaiting their turn.Even though polling for the six constituencies in the region is scheduled for Dec 17 in the sixth phase of the seven-part polls, and the last date for nominations is Nov 29, political activity has picked up a great deal.

“This is not the time to wait and watch. It’s time to reach out to voters,” observed Majid Wani, the Congress candidate from Doda and a member of the dissolved house. He is pitted against the National Conference’s Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy, a former home minister.

The Congress candidate is waiting for party leaders to visit and tell people about their accomplishments.

“When we tell people how life has been transformed in this area due to the huge development ushered in by the Congress government, they realise that neither the National Conference nor the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did anything for them except offering slogans and false promises,” Wani told IANS.

Flags and banners of the various candidates have come up. National Conference patron and chief ministerial candidate Farooq Abdullah addressed a rally here Monday.

“This time, we will form the government,” he asserted at a huge gathering amid cheers.

He criticised Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the PDP patron and rival chief ministerial candidate who was in town Sunday and had said his party’s rule had ushered in an era of peace and development. Farooq, in his candid style, said the PDP and the Congress were “liars”.

The coalition rule of the PDP and the Congress has left the state divided on communal and regional lines, he said.

Suharwardy said his party had done work in the “most difficult times” from 1996 to 2002 when it ruled the state. “The foundation for peace was laid by our party, the rest is a story of some followup action here and there,” he said.

The competition is being welcomed by voters as they feel they will be eagerly courted by various parties.

“The separatists have done nothing but helped prolong our suffering. The militants killed innocents and now they want us to boycott the polls. For what?,” asked Nissar Ahmad, a labourer with the forest contractor here.

Ahmad has to trek 11 km from his home in Bharat - a mountainous bowl-like area - to his work site. The day he doesn’t work, it becomes difficult for him to feed his family of five.

“If there are no elections, there will be no work and I cannot afford to lose my daily earnings. I will vote,” he said.

Bashir Ahmad, a youth in his 20s, is concerned about unemployment. “I want to vote because whosoever is elected will have to do something on this front, and will be held accountable if they do not,” he said.

Doda people have seen the way those in the valley queued up to vote - with over 63 percent polling - and have been inspired. “We have our right to vote too, so we will, come what may,” said Bashir Ahmad.

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