Low voter turnout may hit Mehbooba Mufti’s prospects in Anantnag

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SRINAGAR: With the overall voter turnout in the first of the three-phase polling in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency settling below 10 per cent till 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the fate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti hangs precariously in the balance in what was till recently her party’s bastion.

The bad news for Mufti is that voters in her ancestral town Bijbehara and the neighbouring Anantnag showed very little interest to come out and join the poll process.

Mufti won this Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and resigned in 2016 to become the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir following the death of her father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.

She later won the 2016 bypoll for the Anantnag Assembly seat to get elected to the 87-member state legislative Assembly. Anantnag Assembly seat fell vacant due to Mufti Senior’s death in 2016.

In contrast to the less than 3 per cent voter turnout in Bijbehara and Anantnag segments that have traditionally been PDP strongholds, the turnout has been good in Dooru, Kokernag and Shangus segments where her Congress rival, Ghulam Ahmad Mir has strong voter support.

The voter turnout has also been good in the Pahalgam segment, but it is believed that the PDP and the National Conference (NC) would cut almost equally here, again giving an edge to the Congress candidate.

Voting will be held in Kulgam district of the constituency on April 29 and in Shopian and Pulwama districts on May 6 and the voter turnout in these remaining districts may make or mar the electoral prospects of the PDP President.

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