Development is a key issue in this mountainous constituency which is witnessing a three-way contest between two-time Congress Minister Majid Wani, who is taking on the BJP making inroads in Chenab Valley and NC, which looks to wrest the seat from its coalition partner.
As the campaign gains momentum in this constituency, which has a reputation of throwing up surprises, BJP and PDP have gone full throttle with its top guns hitting the campaign trail. NC, however, is yet to see campaigning by top leaders.
Wani, who is a sitting Minister for Roads and Building in the Omar Abdullah government, faces an uphill task to retain the Doda seat as he crosses swords directly with NC’s Najeeb Suharwardy and BJP candidate Shakti Raj.
JKPDP candidate Shahab-ul-Haq can also make a dent in the prospects NC-Cong in view of a polarised vote bank.
“It is a tough fight for not only the Congress in Doda to retain the seat but also in the entire Chenab valley. The situation is different from the past”, political analyst and former Head of Department of Kashmir University, K N Pandita, said.
In the Doda Assembly constituency, 11 candidates are in the fray including Chunni Lal (BSP), Khalid Najib Suharwardy (JKNC), Shakti Raj (BJP), Shahab-ul-Haq (JKPDP), Abdul Majid Wani (INC), Daya Krishan (Independent), Rajinder Singh (Independent), Farooq Ahmed Dar (Independent), Mohammad Ali Shokeen (Independent), Mohammad Yousaf (Independent) and Nuzhat Iqbal Zargar (Independent).
Backed by Congress’ star campaigner Gulam Nabi Azad, Wani, who is seeking re-election said, “People of Doda, in the past, have voted for development and this time also people will vote for development only”.
Trying to take on NC and BJP, Wani charged, “On the one hand, few NC leaders have been conspiring against sustainable development in Doda district, particularly in Doda. On the other hand, BJP has been continuously trying to polarise society to nurture its ideology of dividing society for vote bank politics”.
Accusing opposition parties of trying to divide voters on religious lines, Wani said, “Some opportunist political leaders had made attempts during the 2008 Amarnath land row and during the last Lok Sabha polls, but secular culture of people in Doda constituency defeated their vicious designs by voting for Congress”.
BJP is trying to woo voters by promising them development.
“Congress and NC have destroyed Doda. There is no visible development. There are villages without road connectivity, power and water supply which are basic needs of life”, BJP candidate Shakti Raj said.