NATIONAL

Omar Abdullah in a triangular contest in Ganderbal

National Conference president Omar Abdullah campaigns at Bakoora, Ganderbal, in Srinagar.

National Conference president Omar Abdullah campaigns at Bakoora, Ganderbal, in Srinagar.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: PTI

Shujaat Bukhari

Apologises to voters for “wrongs done by my party”

GANDERBAL: Ganderbal, which is going to the polls in the second phase of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir on November 23, is witnessing a high profile contest between National Conference president Omar Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party heavyweight Qazi Afzal.

However, the contest is likely to be triangular after Sheikh Ashfaq, son of the former Minister Sheikh Jabbar who was gunned down by militants in the early 90s, entered the fray on the Congress ticket. Mr. Omar Abdullah is contesting from this constituency, represented by his grandfather Sheikh Abdullah and father Farooq Abdullah several times, for the second time after his defeat at the hands of Mr. Afzal in 2002. This time Mr. Omar Abdullah has made it a “do or die” contest, and he is leaving no stone unturned to convince the voters to elect him.

His strategy for the last few weeks has been to tender apology to the voters, for the “wrongs done by his party or father” and ask them to “give me a chance.”

Addressing a gathering here on Thursday, he admitted that it was the toughest ever battle he faced but sounded confident that he would sail through. The NC president, who is also a member of Parliament, is campaigning hard and spending most of his time in the constituency.

Mr. Afzal, is seeking votes for what he has done during the past six years as a Minister.

“Ganderbal was represented by so-called bigwigs but it was neglected. See what I have done in terms of development. I gave you district status and there is a lot of development in your district” he told a meeting in Zakura area. He, along with PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, has launched door-to-door campaigning. Mr. Afzal too is confident about his victory. However, Sheikh Ashfaq is also posing a stiff challenge. Harping on the good work done by his father in the GM Shah regime, he is also calling for a change. “He will get a substantial chunk of votes as he is liked by the people” said Mohammad Ramzan a resident in Duderhama. But in case the voter turnout is brisk it is difficult to predict who will emerge victorious.

The mood in the town is no doubt subdued but the high turnout in Bandipore district has enthused political parties and voters.

“I think there will be a good turnout” said another resident, Suhail Mehmood, who added that Bandipore had shown the way.

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