Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, from where PDP Chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was contesting one of the most toughest poll battle in the absence of her father Mufti Mohd Sayeed, on Tuesday recorded less than 14 per cent voter turnout triggering speculation over her political career ahead.
Compared to 2014, Anantnag Lok Sabha seat witnessed 14 per cent decline in the total voter turnout in the first of the three round polling.
Two more rounds of polling is schedule to take place on April 29 and May 6 in three districts of South Kashmir.
At the end of the polling, Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Shailendra Kumar told reporters in Srinagar that 13.61 per cent polling was recorded in Anantnag seat.
“Heavy deployment of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and State police was made to secure the polling stations and provide safety to the voters,” he added.
Despite this, minor clashes erupted between PDP and NC supporters in Bijbehara, the home town of PDP Chief.
The incident provoked National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah to post a tweet, ignoring the new found bonhomie between the two Kashmiri leaders. “They see the writing of their defeat on the wall & take it out on a young @JKNC_ volunteer. They can beat people up but that won’t alter their fate,” Omar tweeted.
Ahead of the start of the polling Omar had also appealed to the voters of Anantnag, “please don’t reward the death, destruction & deceit of the last 4 years by staying home & boycotting the election. Come out & vote to give your anger a voice. Vote for the best candidate in the field”.
Around 28 per cent voters had exercised their right to vote electing Mehbooba with a margin of over 65,000 votes in 2014.
A total number of 714 polling stations were set up for 5,23,566 voters in six polling segments of Bijbehara, Pahalgam, Shangus, Anantnag, Kokernag and Dooru.
In addition, poll authorities had set up 26 polling stations outside the valley for Kashmiri Pandit migrant voters.
Of these, 21 have been set up in Jammu, four in Delhi and one in Udhampur district.In Jammu, large number of migrant voters were barred from voting as their names were missing despite filling M forms.
Along with Mehbooba Mufti, fate of Ghulam Ahmed Mir, state President of the Congress, Justice (Retired) Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference, Sofi Yusuf of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Chowdhury Zafar Ali of the People’s Conference was sealed by voters in Anantnag.
Though Mehbooba Mufti was expecting a healthy turnout in Anantnag to romp home victoriously but poor turnout in her own strong bastion is set to upset her poll arithmetic.
Meanwhile, several senior PDP leaders along with Mehbooba Mufti spent anxious moments as even PDP’s strong pockets witnessed poor voting in Anantnag town, PDP’s strong bastion.
Putting up a brave front after the polling was over PDP Chief posted a tweet, “Kissi nay kasar naheen chori humay mitaane may Khuda khud muhafiz raha humara har zamanay main I’d like to thank all the PDP foot soldiers & voters who voted inspite all odds & reposed their trust in me once again”.
After casting her ballot in Bijbehara, Mehbooba Mufti told reporters, “ this time my father is not with me but his workers who have worked for him are still there. I hope the workers of my father will ensure my victory in this election”.