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Campaigning picks up for April 24 bypoll in Kashmir

By Staff
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Baramulla, Apr 16 (UNI) Campaigning for the April 24 by-elections in three Assembly constituencies of Pattan, Rafiabad and Sangrama in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla district has picked up considerably during the past few days as political parties and candidates make last-ditch efforts to outdo each other in wooing the voters with claims and counter-claims.

The poll boycott campaign by several separatist groups has also gained momentum with every passing day.

The key fight in the bypoll is between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a ruling coalition partner, and the main opposition National Conference (NC).

While in Pattan, PDP candidate Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari will battle it out against NC's Sheikh Mustaffa Kamal to retain the seat, the main contest in Rafiabad is between PDP's Mohammad Dilwar Mir, seeking re-election, and NC's Advocate Mohammad Maqbool Mir.

In Sangrama, the NC has decided to support independent candidate Shoaib Nabi Lone, the son of then Minister of State for Education Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone, who was assassinated by unidentified gunmen at the high-security Tulsi Bagh area in Srinagar on October 18 last year.

The PDP has fielded Javed Hussain Baig, the nephew of Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig, from the seat.

The by-elections in Pattan and Rafiabad have been necessitated following the resignation of sitting legislators -- Moulvi Ansari and Mr Mir respectively -- after they left the NC to join the PDP.

The bypoll in Sangrama has been necessitated due to the killing of Dr Lone.

Polling will be held on April 24 while the counting of votes would be taken up on April 27.

As many as 15 candidates are in the fray for the bypolls. While four candidates each are contesting from Pattan and Rafiabad, Sangrama will witness a fight between seven contestants.

Besides Moulvi Ansari and Dr Kamal, the other candidates in the fray from Pattan are two independents Abdul Ahad Najar and Nazir Ahmed Mir.

In Rafiabad, BJP's Mohammad Maqbool War and Abdul Khaliq Sheikh of the Panthers Party are also in the fray and in Sangrama three independents Zafarullah Beigh, Abdul Rehman Lone and Ghulam Mohiuddin Bhat besides Sonaullah Beigh of the Panthers Party and Javed Ahmed Qureshi of the Rashtriya Lok Dal will take part in the electoral battle.

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