SRINAGAR Kashmir is warming up for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections as major political parties in the valley like the National Conference and the PDP held a series of rallies on Sunday, with the new entrant Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement led by former IAS officer Shah Faesal also making its debut.
National Conference (NC) vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah chose PDP stronghold of south Kashmir to kick-start the mass contact programme as the party organised a rally at Khanabal in Anantnag district of the militancy infested region.
Although the party has not announced its candidates for the Lok Sabha polls for the three seats in the valley, Abdullah starting the campaign from south Kashmir shows that the party is focussed on gaining the lost ground in what has turned into a stronghold for the PDP over the past two decades.
“The parliamentary board of the party will meet tomorrow (Monday) and the candidates for Lok Sabha elections will be announced only after that,” provincial president of the party Nasir Aslam Wani said.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister, began the campaign trail from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district but other party leaders stayed put in south Kashmir, holding a party convention in Kulgam district.
The PDP campaign strategy seems to be a mirror image of the NC strategy as the party has focussed on areas where they have lost ground over the years.
Sajad Gani Lone’s People’s Conference has made major inroads in the past five years in Kupwara district while the PDP managed to win only one of the four seats in Kulgam district in the 2014 assembly elections, in spite of a strong wave in its favour at that time.
Shah Faesal’s People’s Movement was formally launched at a public rally in the heart of the city here on Sunday as he promised corruption-free politics that will also help in bridging the gap between the Centre and the state.
While Faesal, soon after his resignation from government service in January this year had expressed his desire to contest the Lok Sabha elections, a party leader Sunday said they will take a final decision on contesting the parliamentary elections in the next few days.
The gatherings at the rallies of all three parties might not have been proportional to the nature of the elections but the numbers were respectable enough, given the general disinterest in the Lok Sabha elections in Kashmir over the past three decades.
The voter turn out in Lok Sabha polls in Kashmir has been on the lower side since the eruption of militancy in the valley in 1990.
The electioneering activity is expected to pick up in the coming days political parties announce their candidates for the polls and parties like the Congress and the BJP kick-start their respective campaigns.