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Tense Srinagar gears up for assembly polls

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
December 21, 2008 21:05 IST
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As the Jammu and Kashmir authorities gear up for the seventh and final phase of the assembly elections in the state, voter turnout in the eight constituencies of Srinagar on December 24 could be the litmus test for the contesting parties in the fray.

In spite of a heavy voter turnout of 65 per cent inĀ  the last six phases, political observers are keeping their fingers crossed as Srinagar, which has been tense since the polling began, gears up for the elections.

The campaigning by various contestants remained low-key because of the sensitive situation in the state capital, which has been in the grip of continuous protests and violence since the agitation started here in the last week of June.

The political parties have been forced to confine their campaign to outskirts of the city and their party headquarters.

National Conference patron and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah is contesting from the two of the eight constituencies that go to polls on Wednesday.

Almost all the eight seats have traditionally been the strongholds of the NC.

The main contest in the capital city is going to be between arch rivals NC and the People's Democratic Party

The separatist leaders, whose poll boycott calls could not deter voters from coming out to exercise their franchise in the six phases so far, have asked Srinagar residents to abstain from voting.

The separatist coordination committee has even called for a protest march on polling day. Ever since militancy erupted in the Valley in 1989, the voter turnout in these eight constituencies has never reached a double digit.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar