SRINAGAR: The prospects of former chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti have dimmed with the Congress party yesterday announcing to decision to field Jammu and Kashmir chief G A Mir from Anantnag constituency in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Mir will be in direct contest with Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi in the election which will be held in three phases due to the volatile situation in the south Kashmir constituency that is spread over four districts of Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam.

“We are hopeful about winning at least four seats from Jammu and Kashmir. It (Lok Sabha elections) is a battle between fascist and secular forces and I hope people will turn up in large numbers and defeat such elements who want to damage the secular fabric of J&K,” Mir told The Citizen.

The Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was won by Mehbooba Mufti in 2014 general elections but the PDP chief vacated the seat after the demise of her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayed in 2016 forced her to return to the state politics. The by-polls on Anantnag were delayed on three occasions by Election Commission of India due to security concerns.

Sources said the PDP was hoping for a “cakewalk” for the party chief in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as the Congress party had delayed announcing its candidate from the Anantnag constituency.

Mir, who has a significant vote bank in this south Kashmir assembly constituency, won Dooru assembly constituency two times. However, he was defeated by the PDP’s Syed Farooq Andrabi with a narrow margin of less than 200 votes.

While Andrabi, the former minister in PDP-BJP government who is also the uncle of Mehbooba, polled 18150 votes, Mir got 17985 votes to win the assembly constituency in 2014 state elections in Jammu and Kashmir

“Mir’s entry into political arena from Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency will make it a direct triangular contest between National Conference, Congress and Peoples Democratic Party. It won’t be a cakewalk for Mehbooba anymore since Congress has a significant vote bank in the south Kashmir constituency,” Noor Baba, a prominent political analyst based in Srinagar, said.

Anantnag parliamentary constituency is spread over 16 assembly segments of which two, Shangus and Devsar, were won by Congress while the party lost by narrow margin on three other seats. The PDP won a majority assembly seats from south Kashmir in 2014 assembly elections.

“The crackdown against militants and Jamaat has dented the image of the PDP and it will be difficult for the party to retain its vote share in the coming parliamentary elections,” Prof Baba said.