With votes in EVMs for Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency, Focus now shifts to North Kashmir for May 20 Polls

Ishtiyaq Kar

Srinagar, May 14 (KNS): Following the successful completion of the Srinagar parliamentary constituency elections on Monday, where votes are now securely locked in electronic voting machines (EVMs), the political spotlight has turned to the Baramulla constituency.

Baramulla is gearing up for its own critical and high-stakes election on May 20, drawing nationwide attention due to the intense competition among key political figures and parties.

Baramulla has become the epicenter of a fiercely contested electoral battle. Among the 22 candidates vying for the seat, notable figures include National Conference (NC) Vice President Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference (PC) Chairman Sajad Gani Lone, People's Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Mir Mohammad Fayaz, and jailed leader Abdul Rashid Sheikh, also known as Er Rashid. News agency Kashmir News Service (KNS) reported that each of these candidates represents significant political currents and holds substantial sway in the constituency.

The NC and Indian National Congress (INC) alliance, which has historically dominated the Baramulla seat with victories in 14 out of the 15 Lok Sabha elections since 1957, is facing an unprecedented challenge this time.

The competition is particularly intense with the emergence of new political forces and strategic alliances backing Sajad Gani Lone.

In the 2019 elections, NC candidate Muhammad Akbar Lone won the seat, defeating his closest rival from the PC, Raja Aijaz Ali, by a substantial margin.

However, this election cycle promises to be different, with Lone facing robust opposition from newer and more coordinated political groups, making the outcome unpredictable.

A social worker in Baramulla commented on the dynamic electoral landscape, saying, "The Lok Sabha race in Baramulla is shaping up to be fiercely competitive, with each candidate having a significant support base and unique appeal to the electorate."

Historically, the NC has held the Baramulla seat eight times, while the INC has secured it five times. The constituency saw its first Lok Sabha election win by an INC candidate, Sheikh Muhammad Akbar, in 1957. The INC's dominance continued with subsequent wins by Syed Ahmed Aga in 1967 and 1971, and Khawaja Mubarak Shah in 1980. The NC's Saifuddin Soz then showcased his influence with victories in 1983, 1984, and 1989. The PDP's Muzaffar Hussain Beigh broke this trend in 2014, only for the NC to reclaim it in 2019 with Muhammad Akbar Lone.

As the electoral battle lines are drawn, the security apparatus is also gearing up for the polls.
Following the successful conclusion of the Srinagar parliamentary elections, security forces are now focused on ensuring a peaceful and orderly polling process in Baramulla.

Under the Election Commission's directive, the Jammu and Kashmir police, along with other security forces, are implementing a comprehensive strategy to secure the election process.

A meticulous security blueprint includes fortifying polling booths, securing strong rooms, and safeguarding the collection and distribution centers of EVMs.

Enhanced surveillance and communication strategies are also in place to manage law and order effectively. Authorities are vigilant against potential misuse of social media and other disruptive activities, ensuring every aspect of the polling process is secured.

In addition to Baramulla, the Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary seat is scheduled for elections on May 25, following a previous postponement. This highlights the extensive electoral process currently unfolding across the region.

As Baramulla prepares for its pivotal moment on May 20, the region, known for its complex political fabric, stands at the cusp of a significant electoral shift.

The upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Baramulla promise to be one of the most closely watched contests.(KNS) 

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