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LS polls: Gujjar leader Mian Altaf named as NC candidate for Anantnag seat

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Srinagar, Apr 1 (PTI) Renowned Gujjar leader Mian Altaf, a prominent figure among the Bakarwal and Pahari communities, was on Monday declared as the National Conference's candidate for the newly redrawn Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, slated for polling on May 7.

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The 66-year-old leader is a five-time MLA and former minister in the Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah governments.

Hailing from the ancestral Wangath village in Kangan, Central Kashmir, known as 'Baba Nagri', Altaf's nomination has sparked enthusiasm among locals, with his inclusive approach being a key highlight of his candidacy.

The announcement of his name by NC vice president Omar Abdullah has set the stage for a competitive election, with various opposition parties, including arch-rival PDP, facing a formidable challenge in countering Altaf's widespread support base.

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"There can't be any better choice than Mian (Altaf) Saheb for the Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri seat. He has never asked votes on religious lines and always kept all sections of the society together.

"I appeal to the voters of Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri parliamentary seat to come out in majority to make Mian saheb successful so that the voice of the people reaches Delhi," Omar said while announcing his name on behalf of party president Farooq Abdullah.

The function was held at the party headquarters.

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The announcement saw several rejoicing moments in the Rajouri and Poonch areas and many of them saw 'Baba Nagri' coming to their area.

Altaf, expressing gratitude for the overwhelming support, emphasised that his leadership is shaped by the people's affection and his commitment to public service, reflecting on his family's legacy of religious leadership in Kashmir.

His great grandfather Baba Jee Sahib Larvi, his grandfather Mian Nizam Ud Din Larvi and his father Mian Bashir Ahmed Larvi were also religious figures in Kashmir. His father had declared him as 'Wali-e-Ahed' in 2017.

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"I have nothing else to say. I have been working for the people in the past and I will continue to do that," Mian Altaf told PTI after his nomination for the seat was announced.

He said these elections were an uphill task keeping in mind the redrawn Lok Sabha constituency which now includes areas from South Kashmir as well as from Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region.

The 'Baba Nagri' is thronged by hundreds of people every day to meet him and seek his blessings.

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Altaf survived a terrorist attack in 1995 that involved an IED explosion and gunfire by militants from Harkat-ul-Ansar (now known as banned Jaish-e-Mohammed). Following the incident, he was airlifted to Delhi for medical treatment and upon his return, he continued to stay at his ancestral village.

As the Anantnag constituency expands to encompass Rajouri and Poonch regions post-delimitation, the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections on May 7 are poised to be a significant electoral event in the region.

The NC, aligned with the opposition INDIA bloc, is set to contest three seats in the Kashmir Valley. PTI MIJ SKL KVK KVK

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