NC chief files papers for Srinagar-Budgam constituency

National Conference (NC) president and Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah filed his nomination papers as the candidate of his party in the Lok Sabha elections from the key constituency of Srinagar-Budgam on Monday.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, State Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz and over a dozen of the State Ministers and legislators accompanied Dr. Abdullah to the Returning Officer and the Srinagar Deputy Commissioner, Farooq Shah. Aam Aadmi Party’s Raja Muzaffar Bhat and two Independent candidates — Feroz Ahmad Bhat and Mirza Sajjad Beg — also filed their papers. An Independent candidate Rabia Altaf had filed her papers on Saturday.

Mr. Shah told The Hindu that 19 sets of the nomination papers had been issued to different aspirants. Of them, five turned up with their documents on Saturday and Monday. He said that the total number of the voters in the constituency, spread over 15 Assembly segments in the three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal, had reached 11,71,752 but more could be registered by the last date of April 9. Of the 1,546 polling stations, 1,021 have been declared as hypersensitive, 470 sensitive and 55 normal for the April 30 polling.

In the multi-cornered contest, the ruling NC-Congress coalition’s Dr. Abdullah would have a tough fight with the Peoples Democratic Party’s former MLA and Minister Tariq Hamid Qarra. In his 33-year political career, Dr. Abdullah was elected as MLA five times besides as a member of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha two times each. Currently a Union Cabinet Minister, he has served as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir four times since he succeeded his father and the NC founder, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, in 1982.

After filing his papers, Dr. Abdullah paid obeisance at the Hazratbal shrine and later addressed a gathering of his party workers and followers at Sheikh Abdullah’s mausoleum.

In his speech, he reiterated that neither the BJP nor its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi could ever dare to undermine Article 370 as, he asserted, it was the bondage between the State and the Centre. “If at all they ever try to weaken or repeal Article 370, it will bring into question the very basis of this State’s accession to the Union of India,” Dr. Abdullah said.