JEHANGIR ALI | 24 MARCH, 2017
Farooq Abdullah Back In Full Form
SRINAGAR: National Conference president, Dr Farooq Abdullah's nomination as joint candidate of NC-Congress alliance for Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in the Valley may well end up rejuvenating the career of one of the oldest political stalwarts from J&K.
Seen as a crowd puller who had his share of ups and downs in the turbulent political atmosphere of the state, Dr Abdullah has, off late, resorted to peddling a soft-separatist line, exoticising militancy and the Hurriyat, and targeting the PDP for helping the BJP in coming to power.
According to political experts, his chances of reclaiming the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, going to polls on April 9, which he lost to the PDP's Tariq Hamid Karra, a major highlight of 2014 Lok Sabha election, have been buoyed by Karra joining the Congress after resigning from his party.
"Also, the PDP's candidate (Nazir Ahmad Khan) isn't of his stature and he will be fighting on a weak wicket against Dr Abdullah, although both the PDP and NC-Congress alliance have pockets of support in the Srinagar constituency," Dr Noor A Baba, a Valley-based political scientist, said.
Ahead of the nomination paper filing ceremony, hectic deliberations were held by the top leadership of NC-Congress combine to finalise the candidate for Srinagar, with one section of National Conference openly voicing their reluctance against throwing Dr Abdullah into the political arena.
"This section of leaders (in NC) were against the idea because there are barely two years left for the Lok Sabha term to expire. Besides, for them, it would be a big jolt to the alliance in case Dr Abdullah were to lose, which is why they didn't want him to contest," a senior NC leader told The Citizen, wishing anonymity.
However, in the end, sources said, it was Dr Abdullah himself who decided to contest and his decision was welcomed by the alliance, "Now the result will depend on the turnout of the voters on the election day. Also, the support of independent candidates and smaller parties will decide which way the wind blows," Dr Baba said.
In the tension-laced atmosphere of the Valley, the campaigning for Srinagar and Anantnag seats is likely to remain a low-key affair and there are apprehensions that the voter turnout may not be high, especially against the backdrop of last year's civilian uprising which left close to hundred people dead while thousands were injured.
In the run up to the by-polls, authorities have launched a crackdown on "troublemakers" with nealy three dozen freedom protesters and the Hurriyat leaders and activists held in various parts of Kashmir Valley in the last two weeks to ensure that the election remain incident-free.
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