PDP eyeing Jammu constituencies for next polls


Jammu : With elections to the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly less than a year away, the Congress’s ruling coalition partner – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – has started focussing its attention on Jammu region to bolster its poll prospects.

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“Things have changed and we are sure of winning some seats this time (in Jammu),” PDP patron and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed told his party workers in Jammu Thursday.

In the last assembly election held in 2002 the ruling Congress had won 15 out of the 37 constituencies from the region, and the PDP, essentially a Kashmir-centric party, could not grab a single seat.

According to PDP sources, the Mufti’s party has set eyes on border belt in the Jammu region, which includes Ranbirsinghpora, Suchetgarh, Vijaypur, Marh, and some of the constituencies in the Muslim dominated areas of Rajouri, Poonch and Doda districts.

Although the PDP is not directly projecting itself as a rival to the Congress in the region, the signals are clear that it would field candidates in the Jammu region constituencies.

The PDP has faced stiff opposition in the region owing to its call for demilitarisation and self-rule. It is now selling the peace theme. “It was we who helped India and Pakistan to build bridges of peace with each other. We created an atmosphere for peace and dialogue,” Mufti Sayeed said.

His reference was to the India-Pakistan dialogue and a feverish support that the PDP helped to create for the reconciliation process in the state.

“Today there is peace on borders from the plains of Kathua to the Himalayan heights of Kargil, and it is because we wanted peace and pressed both India and Pakistan to go in for the ceasefire,” he said while referring to the ceasefire on borders effective since Nov 26, 2003.