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J&K polls: Triangular contest in Bandipora
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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November 16, 2008 17:15 IST

The stage is set for the first phase of polling on Monday in the 10 assembly constituencies spread over four districts of Jammu and Kashmir [Images] amid tight security in view of possible attempts by terrorists to disrupt the polls.

Situated 55 kilometres north of Srinagar [Images], Bandipore assembly constituency goes to polls in the first phase. The main contest here is going to be between the independent candidate Usman Majid, Nizamuddin Bhat of the People's Democratic Party and Ghulam [Images] Rasool Mir of the National Conference.

Interestingly, a Tihar jail inmate, Mohammad Iqbal Jan is also fighting elections from Bandipora on the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers' Party ticket.

"I have decided to fight elections from my home constituency to prove my innocence," Jan of the JKNPP said while announcing his decision to fight the polls.

The constituency was won by Usman Majid in 2002 elections, who defeated his nearest rival Habibullah Bhat of the Congress by a margin of 253 votes. Out of 22,179 votes polled in 2002 elections here Usman had polled 5722 votes while Bhat had polled 5469 votes.

In the 2002 elections, around 32 per cent votes had been polled here.

For the 2008 elections, Bandipora has 86,306 voters, including 45,340 male and 40,966 female voters. 

The number of polling stations in the constituency is 111.

The election campaign in the constituency has been a low key affair this year because of the poll boycott call given by the separatist co-ordination committee comprising representatives of both groups of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

All the three main contestants, Usman, Nizamuddin and Mir had to restrict their campaigns in the constituency.

There has been no major poll rally or road show in the constituency where the campaigning ended on Saturday, and given the public mood it is very difficult to say in whose favour the dice would be loaded this time.

"There is no over current in favour of any candidate in the constituency. Going by the track record of the constituency, the main contest here would be between the independent candidate, Usman Majid and the PDP candidate.

"Bandipora was once thought to be a stronghold of the NC, but going by the under current in the constituency the main contest would most probably be between Usman Majid and the PDP candidate Nizam-ud-Din," said Nazir Ahmad, 47, a resident of Aloosa village here.

Authorities are confident there would be peaceful poll in Bandipora on November 17 despite the separatist boycott call and the decision to march to Bandipora from other places of the Valley.

"Measures would be taken as the situation demands. We will deal with the situation so that law and order is in control and people cast their votes without any fear or threat," state director general of police, Kuldeep Khuda said.

Contingents of police and Central Reserve Police Force have been deployed in strength to secure the 111 polling stations in the constituency.

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