Srinagar, the most high profile seat in Kashmir
With 1.2 million voters spread over 15 assembly constituencies, the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency is the most prestigious among the six parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. In the words of incumbent MP Farooq Abdullah, Srinagar is the jugular vein of his party and family and was "non-negotiable".
National Conference patron and union minister Abdullah is seeking re-election from Srinagar to the 16th Lok Sabha. Abdullahs have won elections from Srinagar five times so far - 1977, 1989, 1999, 2004 and 2009 - he in 1977 and 2009 and his son Omar Abdullah, currently the chief minister, in the other three polls.
There are 15 assembly seats from the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency spread over three districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam. The 1.2 million voters comprise a mix of Sunni, Shia, tribal Gujjar and Pashtu Muslims.
The assembly seats are Hazratbal, Zadibal, Eidgah, Khanyar, Amira Kadal, Sonawar, Batmaloo and Habba Kadal in Srinagar district, Ganderbal and Kangan in Ganderbal district and Chadoora, Budgam, Beerwah, Khan Sahib and Charar-e-Sharief in Budgam district.
All eight assembly constituencies in Srinagar district are represented in the 87-member state assembly by National Conference legislators.
The two seats from Ganderbal district are also represented by Abdullah's party - Ganderbal by Omar Abdullah and Kangan by Gujjar leader and Forest Minister Mian Altaf Ahmad.
In Budgam district, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislators represent two seats, Chadoora and Beerwah, while the Khan Sahib seat is represented by Hakim Muhammad Yasin of the Peoples Democratic Front (PDF).
The remaining two assembly seats, Budgam and Charar-e-Sharief are held by National Conference legislators including Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, who represents the Charar-e-Sharief seat.
Tariq Hameed Karra of the PDP and Raja Muzaffar Bhat, a Right to Information (RTI) activist from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have been fielded from the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.
On the birth anniversary of his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Dec 5 last year, Farooq Abdullah announced his decision to seek re-election from Srinagar.
While making the announcement, he said anything else could be negotiated with friends and enemies, but Srinagar remained the jugular vein of his party and family and was, therefore, "non-negotiable".
"So long as I am live, I will stand from Srinagar and you will vote for me," Abdullah told people at his father's mausoleum on the banks of the Dal Lake near the Hazratbal shrine.
Srinagar goes to the polls April 30.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 10-03-2014)
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