The Pulwama terror attack, abrogation of Kashmir’s special status and various other topics related to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir have, during the ongoing Lok Sabha election campaign, been made hot, burning issues elsewhere in the country by the BJP leadership, but hardly any top leader of the party has come to campaign for the party candidate on the ground-zero in Anantnag, the epicentre of terrorism, where 3-phase polling will begin on Tuesday.
The election campaigns of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have been confined to the two constituencies of Jammu and they have not visited the Kashmir valley that sends three MPs to the Lok Sabha.
Being the hotbed of terrorism, the Election Commission of India has ordered the polling for the Anantnag seat in 3-phases. Pulwama, where more than 40 CRPF personnel were martyred in a terror attack in February, is also a segment of the Anantnag seat and polling there, along with South Kashmir’s Shopian, will be held on 6 May. Votes will be cast in the Kulgam district of the constituency on 29 April.
Modi, Shah, Rajnath and other BJP leaders have aggressively talked about the Pulwama attack in their campaigns in other parts of the country, but the BJP candidate, Sofi Yousuf, is campaigning for himself in Anantnag. Some state-level BJP functionaries accompany him to the party rallies in which development and stability are being highlighted.
No top BJP leader had campaigned for the party candidates in the Srinagar and Baramulla seats also where polling has been concluded.
The Congress’s campaign for the seat, where the PCC chief GA Mir is the candidate, was also mostly confined to the local party men, except Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, who addressed a few election rallies in the area.
The Anantnag Parliamentary constituency spread over the four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama has 13,97,272 voters, but 5,29,256 will exercise their franchise on Tuesday in the Anantnag district during the first-phase.
Of these, 2, 69,603 are male, 2, 57,540 females, 2102 service electors (2091 male and 11 female) and 11 transgender voters.
For smooth polling, 714 polling stations have been set up in the district and all are hyper-sensitive.
Keeping in mind the terror threat, personnel of the Army, BSF, CRPF, ITBP and J&K Police have been deployed in strength to thwart any untoward incident.
The separatists have called for poll-boycott and shutdown in Anantnag.
Prominent among the candidates in the fray are Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), Hasnain Masoodi (National Conference), Sofi Yousuf (Bhartiya Janta Party), Ghulam Ahmad Mir (Congress), Nisar Ahmad Wani (Panthers Party) and Zaffar Ali (People’s Conference).
The NC, PDP, Peoples Conference and other regional parties, in their campaign, were targeting the Modi government for allegedly trying to tamper with the Articles 370 and 35A which provide special status to Jammu and Kashmir.