Here is a comprehensive piece on current political situation in Pahalgam, vis-a-vis the upcoming Assembly Polls. Its by Mr. Khalid Gul and published in Greater Kashmir.
Pahalgam, Nov 19: In Pahalgam an interesting contest is in the offing. Two prominent former National Conference leaders, Muhammad Rafi Mir and Irfan Ahmad Bhat are in the fray against a new face, Altaf Kaloo, nominated by the party this time.
Pahalgam sent Mehbooba Mufti the president of People’s Democratic Party and her father Mufti Muhammad Sayed to the state legislative assembly in 2002 assembly elections and 2004 bye-elections. Mufti realized his dream of a win in the Valley after 22 years from this constituency. In both the elections Muhammad Rafi Mir of National Conference lost narrowly to the father-daughter duo, even though he was a favorite. This time he is fighting as the candidate of PDP, which has groomed this constituency for the past nearly a decade.
Polling would be held here in the 6th phase, and it would witness a triangular contest between PDP, National Conference (NC), and Congress.
Muhammad Rafi Mir was denied a mandate and he quickly switched over to PDP, giving up decades of association with NC. He is said to have a good voter base. A new face, Altaf Kaloo known to the people here more as a businessman than a politician, will contest as the NC candidate. Irfan Ahmad Bhat, son of former Congress leader Ghulam.Nabi Bhat, who parted ways with the National- Conference after he was denied a mandate has been approved by the Screening Committee of the Congress for candidature from Pahalgam, according to Congress sources.
Muhammad Rafi Mir has an edge over his rivals for two reasons. First, he has a support base in the two most populous villages of the constituency- Sallar and Wullarhama. Second, the differences within the ranks of NC workers caused over the mandate to candidates would help Mir.
A political analyst attributed the defeat of Mir in 2002 elections to his contesting elections on ticket of the party which the people of the constituency always accused of ignoring the area.
Altaf has a support base in upper belts of Aishmuqam and Seer Hamdan, but political analysts here believe the people of these areas are not likely to cast votes, as they participated in the massive pro-independence rallies.
Irfan might find supporters in Kullar and Liver villages–as populous as Sallar and Wullarhama—and also in the Gujjar community.
Mir and Irfan deserted National Conference, accusing the party leadership of being corrupt and ignoring the people of their constituency.
Though the constituency according to the people saw overall development in all the basic sectors but they blame the PDP regime for disturbing the ecosystem of the world famous tourist resort of Pahalgam.
“During the PDPs rule many of the constructions came up in the green belt here and only the influential people with the patronage of the government were benefited,” said the Abdul Razak of Pahalgam.
They also accused the PDP regime of not doing enough to stop the wanton loot of forests in the belt.
The constituency has 70,032 voters with 35,686 male and 32,973 females. In 1996 the poll percentage was 16 percent, and in 2002 it was 26.