Chadoora 26

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Located on the peripheries of Srinagar city Chadoora presents a sorry picture seeking attention of its representatives. Safwat Zargar talks to people across ideologies to understand the mood      

Voters-outside-a-Polling-booth-in-BudgamEver since the results of 2014 Lok Sabha polls were out, the statistics sent all the major mainstream parties in a process of strategizing and garnering support in their favour from the electorate. Be it in the form of going door to door, or calling locals and elders to the representatives’ home, the recently concluded parliamentary elections served as a net practice to ascertain which way the wind is blowing and how can it be diverted. However, if analyzed, assembly constituency wise, there was not so much difference in the voting pattern in the bastions of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in 2014 elections. Chadoora assembly segment fits the description best, as it maintained the winning streak of PDP since 2002, unbroken till 2014.

In the recently held 16th Lok Sabha elections which sent BJP supremo Narendra Modi to the chair of Prime Ministership, it was mainly a one-on-one contest in Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency between NC-Congress coalition and PDP. While the results came as a shock to National Conference, it was PDP that emerged not only the winner but also the favourites for 2014 assembly elections to be held late this year. The break-up figure of 2014 Lok Sabha elections show in Chadoora, PDP’s Tariq Hamid Karra got 16127 votes, while the rival NC’s candidate Farooq Abdullah secured only 10876 votes.

As the experts point out the difference between parliamentary and assembly elections, the way political parties, mainly NC, is working to gather its vote base echoes that the trends in Lok Sabha elections surely act as a parameter for the much bigger contest of ruling the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Whether it is the increase in retirement age from 58 to 60, scrapping of new recruitment policy or lifting the pre-paid SMS ban, the moves are directed to ensure the NC’s revival in the state assembly elections. But it seems unlikely in this Central Kashmir’s Chadoora assembly constituency where PDP’s candidate and Minister of State for Power in 2002 under PDP-Congress coalition, Javaid Mustaffa Mir, seems all set to score a hat trick in 2014.

Born in 1969, Javaid is the son of prominent politician Ghulam Mustaffa Mir who won the Chadoora seat in 1972 and 1987. Javaid won the 2002 and 2008 elections on PDP’s mandate by defeating local National Conference candidate Ali Mohammad Dar.

While the PDP has recently announced its mandate for Chadoora to Javaid Mustaffa Mir, NC is yet to come up with its candidate, however, the speculations run high that Ali Mohammad Dar of Dooniwari Chadoora will be NC’s card. In Chadoora, areas like Brarigund, Kultreav, Wagoora, and Dooniwari are NC’s vote belts where as areas like Lasjan, Nowbugh, Kralpora, Hijpora, Chatergom and Mochu are PDP’s cake share.

“Javaid Mustaffa Mir won 2002 assembly elections because of his father, Ghulam Mustaffa Mir’s influence in the area,” says Hilal Ahmad, a government school teacher and a staunch PDP supporter from Chadoora. “But he won 2008 elections purely on the basis of his service to the people,” Hilal adds. “There is a strange paradox in Chadoora whenever the governments change; if PDP’s candidate wins Chadoora seat, it’s the NC which forms the government and similarly if NC’s candidate wins Chadoora, it’s the PDP or Congress which makes government,” he says, “the paradox creates problems for the people as the political leanings restrict the development and empowerment of a common man.”

Out of the total ten elections held since 1957, Chadoora assembly seat has gone to NC four times, Congress twice, independent candidates twice and more recently to PDP twice since 2002. In 2004 parliamentary elections, Chadoora had polled 10808 votes in favour of PDP’s Advocate Ghulam Nabi Lone where as Omar Abdullah of NC had got 8526 votes. Similarly, in 2009 parliamentary elections, PDP had dominated this assembly segment by its candidate Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari securing 14139 against Farooq Abdullah’s 11538 votes.

Eight candidates were in the ballot contest in 2002 assembly elections, with the contest mainly between NC’s one time winner, Ali Mohammad Dar and young candidate of PDP, Javaid Mustaffa Mir. Out of the total 27439 votes polled, Javaid secured 15923 votes against the Dar’s figure of 7876 votes. The win had sent Javaid to Mufti led coalition government’s list of Ministers of State.

Chadoora-Constituency-Profile-Chart“I don’t have any problems with NC’s Ali Mohammad Dar or PDP’s Javaid Mustaffa Mir but only thing I like about Javaid is that he listens to people and even in some cases accompanies people to the high level officers to address their grievances,” says Mohammad Abdullah, a farmer from Nowbugh. “But on the development front, Javaid hasn’t done anything substantial for the constituency,” he says.

“There are a lot of problems in the constituency; unemployment, bad roads, lack of infrastructure, water supply and other basic necessities of life,” says Khalid Ahmad, a businessman from Chadoora. “Chadoora is the most close to Srinagar and yet it is worse than some backward areas of Budgam,” he says.

“We know that there are a huge number of issues we need to address in Chadoora, particularly the peripheries,” says Ali Mohammad Dar, who won Chadoora assembly seat in 1996 on NC’s mandate. “Our focus, if we form the government, will be on development and infrastructure,” he says. “The problem we faced in Lok Sabha elections was that a huge number of NC’s vote bank didn’t participate in elections as a result of boycott in the neighbouring district of Pulwama,” Dar says. “Moreover, many of our voters believed that Farooq Abdullah will sweep the victory anyhow in Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency, so as a result they didn’t vote. But, the results have shown them that a voter’s silence can duly impact their future.”

“We have a vote bank of 14000 votes across Chadoora and NC is sure that it will outnumber PDP in 2014 assembly elections,” Dar says.

In 2008 assembly elections, 18 candidates were in the fray with the tussle, though not intense, was mainly among four candidates; Javaid Mustaffa Mir PDP, Ali Mohammad Dar NC, Bashir Ahmad Mattoo of Lok Jan Shakti Party and Gh Nabi Mir of Congress.

Javaid emerged as the consecutive winner with 16278 votes while as Ali Mohammad Dar of NC got 13338 votes. However, according to Dar, “it was PDP who had fielded proxy candidates in order to divide NC’s vote share in the constituency by fielding Bashir Ahmad Mattoo of Shalina Chadoora, from Lok Jan Shakti Party (LSJP) who diverted almost 3100 votes of NC in his favour.”

Congress candidate Ghulam Nabi Mir of Lasjan who is the son of veteran Congress politician, Ghulam Mohammad Mir, is one factor who can easily shift a vote share of around 4 to 5 thousand votes in his kitty. However, Ghulam Nabi doesn’t enjoy that much appeal like his father Ghulam Mohammad Mir who won Chadoora assembly segment on Congress mandate in 1967. According to Dar, the reason for Ghulam Nabi Mir’s less influence was Mir’s switching over to Congress, then PDP and then NC. “He was fielded as a candidate from Amira Kadal constituency in 2002 by NC against Mohd Shafi Bhat of Congress, much away from where he actually belonged to,” says Dar.

The boycott factor prevalent in the constituency is a worry for both National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party, with NC getting its heat of late. In 2002 elections, 48 per cent of the electorate in Chadoora had stayed away from polls, which slightly changed to 46 per cent in 2008 elections. At present, the constituency has total electorate of 85-87000 votes approximately. However, both NC and PDP claim that boycott affects their voter share; on the other hand both allege that it helps the other.

While it is not clear, who is benefited by boycott, Chadoora this time seems an acid test between winning streak and revival.

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