The by-election for the two Lok Sabha seats in the Kashmir valley in April will be an acid test for the PDP-BJP coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti.
The Election Commission on Thursday announced that the by-election for the Srinagar and the Anantnag seats will be held onApril 9 and 12 respectively.
Reports were circulating that the coalition government might again try to get the elections postponed on the issue of the ongoing unrest in certain parts of the valley. The state government had pleaded that the panchayat elections should be held before the bypolls for the vacant Lok Sabha seats. The Congress had recently accused the coalition government of running away from the elections in the valley.
The general atmosphere in the valley at this point of time is not congenial particularly for the PDP because of the recent long stretched unrest that claimed 80 lives in Kashmir following the killing of a local terrorist leader Burhan Wani in an encounter in July last.
The Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was vacated by Mehbooba Mufti in June last year after she won the assembly election to become Chief Minister following the death of her father Mufti Syeed. The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat fell vacant when the sitting PDP MP Tariq Hameed Karra resigned as a protest against what he called “brutalities” on the people who were protesting killing of Burhan Wani.
Karra has now joined the Congress and was expected to again contest the seat in the by-election.
The atmosphere in Anantnag that was considered a stronghold of the PDP during the lifetime of Mufti Sayeed was also not in favour of the PDP at this point of time as South Kashmir has become epicenter of the current unrest in the valley.
However, Mehbooba was making efforts to politically mellow down the anger among the electorate. The BJP had failed to win even a single seat in the valley in the last Assembly elections.