As the majority of villagers in 54-Bhaderwah Assembly constituency have reportedly turned hostile against the mainstream political parties NC, BJP & Congress and the remaining are on the track, the 2008 elections in Jammu and Kashmir State are going to witness an unexpected political change from Bhaderwah constituency which is likely to shaking the political history of this constituency.
Till date constituency was represented by Chuni Lal of NC in 1957 and 1962 while as Jagat Ram and Bodh Raj of the Congress party won the 1967 and 1972 elections. Narayan Dass of JP won from here in 1977 while as H.L Hiteshi of NC wrested the seat in 1983. Hari Lal of Congress represented the constituency in 1987 while as Sheikh Abdul Rehman of BSP won from Bhaderwah in 1996, Mohammed Sharief Niaz in 2002 and due to the resignation of Niaz, by-election was held on 24th April, 2006 and Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress was elected.
This time though all the three mainstream political parties BJP, NC and Congress have intensified their ground level campaign in the constituency to get best, yet people are not happy from BJP’s D.K Kotwal and NC’s Mohammed Aslam Goni, SP, JKNPP, and BSP.
According to electorates these two leaders of two mainstream political parties have not done anything for the people, particularly villagers. Though, the Congress candidate from Bhaderwah constituency and former Chief Minister (CM) Ghulam Nabi Azad had initiated some development works but were limited to either Bhaderwah city or his native village in Bhalessa, while the rest of constituency remained neglected.
Still there are many villages in the constituency which lack electricity, water, healthcare and road connectivity is the main problems of villagers which have forced them to revolt against these mainstream political parties this time and opt for a candidate amongst them.
This time villagers have decided to favour a local candidate whom they can approach any time at home. As per a survey conducted by Villagers Development Front, the people of villages which constitutes about 60-70 percent of the electorates have turned hostile towards these mainstream political parties and their favorite this time is an Ex-serviceman and retired educationist, Master Fazal Alam who hails from Chiralla belt of villages which have 14,099 eligible voters.
Relevant to mention here that the entire Bhaderwah constituency has 112 Polling Station out of which 97 are in and of villages while just 15 are in cities. According to survey conducted by the Forum, besides 14, 099 voters of Chiralla belt of villages, 11, 055 voters from Bhaderwah belt out of 44000 total and 8977 in Bhalessa belt out of total 34, 000 voters are almost confirmed to vote for Master Fazal Alam.
The votes in Bhaderwah belt which are about 44, 000 have to be divided among several parties including JKNPP, BSP, SP and PDP. It is being projected that maximum number of voters in Bhaderwah belt particularly the city area which has some influence of separatists may stay away from the poll process. And if they do so, it is clear that Azad, and Mohammed Aslam Goni both leaders of main political parties have to bear the loss of votes if not cast. Which will ultimately benefit Master Fazal Alam who has the support of neglected section of the society…….’The Villagers Force,’ who have pledged to cast their votes at any cast to end the ignorance and suppression of city leaders.
In Bhalessa belt, out of 34, 000, about 9,000 voters are in Master Fazal’s favour while and as the wave is going on more and more villagers are joining Master Fazal, which is indicating that people of villages have decided this time not to vote form those who live in cities. “We have been casting votes in the past but when we have a problem to tell, no body is there to listen to us, where have to search for these leaders who some time stay in Jammu, Srinagar and Delhi, we have decided to elect a person who himself is a villager and whom we can approach any time,” said Shamas Din, a man in his 60s resident of a village in Bhalessa.
Mohammed Iqbal of Bhaderwah said, “We had voted for Azad last time but when a deputation of our villagers visited Jammu to meet him we were told several times that Azad Sahib is not available, and after staying for three weeks in hotels at Jammu, one day we got a chance to meet but that time we were told to write a application and submit to his Secretary and also discuss with him, I want to ask a question here, had we voted for Azad or that bureaucrat (Secretary)”.
Ashok Manhas who was earlier associated with BJP as an active and dedicated worker said, “We are villagers and we have to and should vote for a villager, these city leaders have always befooled us on emotional grounds some time on religious lines for their petty political gains, but now every villager has realized that until and unless a representative from villages is chosen, development of villagers is not possible.”
The total electors eligible to exercise their franchise in the constituency in 2008 elections are 94,173. Of these, 47,970 are male and 46,203 female voters. The number of polling stations to be set up in the constituency is 112, as compared to 107 in 2002 elections.
Mohammad Sharief Niaz of Congress was elected from this constituency in 2002 elections. He polled 16,962 votes and defeated his nearest NC rival Mohammad Aslam by a margin of 6,827 votes. Aslam received 10,135 votes. A total of 49,628 voters voted out of 91,478 registered electorates and the poll percentage was recorded at 54.25.