Azad’s fate sealed in sixth phase of Jammu and Kashmir polling

December 17th, 2008 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Dec 17 (IANS) Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s fate is dependent on the outcome of the poll held in his Bhaderwah constituency Wednesday in the sixth phase of the assembly elections in the state.Azad had won the seat with a huge margin of 58,000 in a by-election in April 2006. His nearest BJP rival had lost his deposit. This time around, there are 19 candidates in the fray in this constituency.

Azad, a Congress candidate, is safely placed in Bhaderwah although Mohammad Aslam Goni of the National Conference (NC) is expected to give a semblance of a contest. Mujib Ali of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not have much of a following, while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Daya Krishan Kotwal is expected to garner some Hindu votes.

Shazia Wafai, a housewife, said: “I will vote for Azad so that he can become chief minister again.”

Many in the constituency were angry that Azad was made to quit as chief minister following the Amarnath land row by the Kashmir-centric PDP.

Imtiyaz Khateeb, a college student, said he and his friends have “decided to vote for Azad”.

“After casting our vote, we will get others to vote as early as possible,” he added. NC supporters too were eager to vote early for Goni, whose family has strong roots in the town.

“Azad is good but we have to look at the larger picture. I don’t think the Congress will be able to form the government this time,” said Javed Iqbal, who is a long time NC supporter.

Azad had started a series of development works in the areas, improving roads and increasing access to educational institutions.

Voting took place Wednesday in three districts of the Jammu region.

With over 450,000 voters and 108 candidates for the six seats at stake in Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar districts, there was massive interest in the sixth phase of elections.

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