South Kashmir's Anantnag constituency, which goes to the polls on Thursday, is going to be a battle between the well entrenched People's Democratic Party and the ruling National Conference--Congress combine fighting to dislodge the PDP from its bastion.
This south Kashmir constituency goes to polls, the first in the valley in the backdrop of a 50-hour bandh called by the separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and a poll boycott call by both groups of the separatist, All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
Even though 13 contestants are in the fray, the main contest is between the ruling National Conference--Congress combine and the opposition, PDP.
Though the candidates of the both the parties are low profile, yet National Conference-Congress candidate Mirza Mehboob Beg was supported in his campaign by the political powerful like Dr Farooq Abdullah, Saif-ud-Din Soz, chief minister Omar Abdullah and senior leaders of the Congress party. Even Rahul Gandhi personally visited the constituency to canvass support for Beg.
On the other hand, the PDP's Peer Mohammad Hussain received support from former chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter and party president, Mehbooba Mufti.
The PDP had captured 12 state assembly seats sweeping of the entire south Kashmir belt of 16 seats.
The stakes in the election are also very high for both the contesting parties. A loss for PDP would mean weakening of its recently created bastion and re-entry of NC into the belt whereas its victory would mean consolidation of its political gains in the area.
The PDP's victory would mean a great defeat for rival NC which despite having been in power in the state for four months has not been able to cause any inroads into the PDP's bastion.