Wahid Bhat | Srinagar
In a major setback for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti is trailing from Anantnag in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi has taken the lead who is followed by Congress’ Ghulam Ahmad Mir is also a few votes ahead of Mufti.
Anantnag was once a PDP stronghold and Mufti has never lost an election. Most of the exit polls had predicted a huge loss for Mufti.
The election holds a lot of significate for this terror hit constituency. Even the future of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is at stake during this election. The Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, one of Jammu and Kashmir’s six Lok Sabha constituencies, has remained vacant for almost three years now.
In 2014, Mehbooba had won the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat by defeating NC candidate Mehboob Beg by more than 65,000 votes. When Mehbooba became J&K chief minister in 2016 after her father’s demise, she got elected from her father’s assembly seat and vacated her Lok Sabha seat with an intention to field her younger brother Tasaduq Mufti from there.
The by-poll to fill the seat could not take place as poll officials felt the security situation was not conducive.
Anantnag has witnessed a triangular contest between Mehbooba Mufti, NC candidate Justice Hasnain Masoodi (retd) and Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir.
Mir is an experienced politician and former minister, while the NC has picked a retired justice as its candidate and is hoping that resentment against the PDP could help the party. The BJP has also fielded its only Muslim legislator from Kashmir, Sofi Yousuf, from the constituency.
At the time of the previous Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Anantnag had 1,301,023 registered electors – 684,820 of them male and 616,203 female. The constituency had seen a 28.84% voter turnout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In Anantnag the male voter turnout was 30.90% and 26.57% female voters turned out for voting.
Meanwhile BJP appeared set for a resounding comeback with leads in 269 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with 51, according to trends available with the Election Commission for 495 of 542 Lok Sabha seats.
As the trends came in, pointing to another tenure of Narendra Modi as prime minister, there were reports of celebrations in the BJP’s party offices across the country.
In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats, leaving the Congress with an all-time low of 44 seats against the 206 it won in 2009.
The counting exercise is on in over 4,000 counting centres amid concerns raised by opposition parties over alleged tampering of EVMs. They have asked the Election Commission to ensure transparency in counting.
Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power. The Union Home Ministry on Wednesday alerted all state chief secretaries and directors general of police about possibility of eruption of violence in different parts of the country during counting of votes. “This is in the wake of calls given and statements made in various quarters for inciting violence and causing disruption on the day of counting of votes,” a Home Ministry statement said.