Mehbooba to contest by-polls from PDP bastion

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti filed her nominations for the Anantnag assembly segment bypoll on Wednesday as she seeks to be elected into the state legislature within the mandated six months from her swearing-in as chief minister.

57-year-old PDP leader, currently a Parliamentarian from the south Kashmir constituency of Anantnag, is contesting for bypoll for the assembly seat, which became necessary after he father, former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed — elected into the legislature from the seat in the assembly elections held in 2014 — died on January 7 this year.

Before she filed her nom inations, Mehbooba Mufti said she hoped people of the segment would vote for her to complete her father’s “tasks”. “People showed their trust in Mufti sahab and gave him an opportunity to be the chief minister. I am hopeful that people will again repose their faith in him and give me an opportunity to complete the work left by Mufti sahab,” said Mehbooba, who was sworn in as Chief Minister on April 4 this year.

She faces Congress candidate Hilal Ahmad Shah and National Conference’s Iftikhar Misger. June 1 is the last day for filing nominations. Papers would be scrutinised on Thursday. The candidates can withdraw their nomination till June 4. The voting will be held on June 19 and counting of votes on June 22.

Mehbooba has been elected to the state assembly three times in the past 20 years: her first victory was in 1996 from Bijbehara assembly segment, where she contested as a Congress candidate. She has never lost an Assembly election. Her only electoral defeat, in fact, was in the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 Lok Sabhain against arch rival, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.

She resigned from the Assembly in 1999 to float regional Peoples Democratic Party with her father and later won the 2002 Assembly polls from Pahalgam segment in Anantnag district but resigned two years later after she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag. Her father won the by-poll to Pahalgam seat held that year. Mehbooba won the 2008 assembly elections from Wachi assembly segment in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and completed first full six-year term in the House till 2014.

She was elected into the Lok Sabha from south Kashmir in 2014 general elections and did not contest the Assembly elections held later that year. On the last date of filing of nomination papers for Bye-elections to Anantnag Assembly constituency, seven nomination papers were filed today. The total number of nominations filed has reached nine, including six independents and three from political parties. The candidates who have filed their nominations are Mehbooba Mufti of PDP, Hilal Ahmad Shah of INC, Iftikhar Hussain Misgar of NC besides, Tejinder Singh, Manzoor Ahmad Khan, Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman, Abdul Rasheed, Masroor Ahmad Mir and Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, all independents. Scrutiny of nomination papers will be held on June 2, 2016 at the office of Returning Officer while as nominations can be withdrawn by June 4, 2016.


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