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JEHANGIR ALI | 10 MARCH, 2017

Kashmir ByPolls: Karra Likely to Contest on Congress Ticket


SRINAGAR: The by-election to two key Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir, which will see some heavyweights in the Valley slog it out on the political turf, will be held in the second week of April, the Election Commission of India said.

The by-election to Srinagar seat, which fell vacant after the resignation of Tariq Hamid Karra, the founding member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party who became known as 'king-slayer' after defeating Dr Farooq Abdullah in 2014 Lok Sabha election, will be held on April 9.

After a bitter, public spat with his party over its alliance with the Hindu right-wing BJP, Karra fell out of favour with the top PDP leadership after the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and resigned from the party's primary membership as well as Lok Sabha last year.

A former finance minister of J&K, Karra joined Congress and he is likely to contest again, this time on a Congress ticket from Srinagar. National Conference is likely to field Dr Abdullah or former J&K finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, while the PDP is rumoured to field the new entrant, Nazir Ahmad Khan, from Srinagar seat.

Khan, whose father has been closely associated with Congress party, joined the PDP last month. He lost to former chief minister Omar Abdullah from Beerwah constituency with a narrow margin of around thousand votes during 2014 state assembly elections.

In the simmering south Kashmir where clashes between locals and security forces are reported on almost daily basis, the Anantnag seat, which was vacated by the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti after her father's demise to take over reins of the state, will go to polls on April 12.

As first reported by The Citizen, Tasaduq Mufti, the ace cinematographer brother of Ms Mufti who joined the party on his father's first death anniversary in January, is likely to try his luck in political arena from here.

The opposition National Conference is yet to zero in on a face to field from this seat after losing Mehboob Beg to the PDP. Beg, who unsuccessfully contested from Anantnag Lok Sabha seat against Mehbooba in 2014, joined PDP ahead of the assembly elections.

There are rumours that the party may field Sakina Itoo in the election while Congress will field its state president, Ghulam Ahmad Mir. "Gazette notification will be issued on March 14 and March 17 for Srinagar and Anantnag respectively," the ECI said.

The commission said in a press statement that the last date for filing nominations for the two seats is March 21 and March 24 and votes will be counted on April 15.

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