Mehbooba to contest by-polls from PDP bastion

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday filed her nomination papers for Anantnag assembly constituency by-elections in south Kashmir, which had fallen vacant after the death of her father and then Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Mehbooba Mufti, who has never lost an assembly election in her 26-year-long political career, was accompanied by her senior Peoples Democratic Party leaders. Mehbooba Mufti has to be elected to either house of the state's bicameral legislature within six months of assuming the office of the chief minister of the state. The opposition National Conference has fielded Iftikhar Hussain Misgar and the Congress has given the mandate to Hilal Ahmad Shah from the PDP's south Kashmir bastion. Mufti Muhammad Sayeed defeated his nearest rival Misgar in 2014 state assembly elections by 6,000 votes while Shah of the Congress finished third in that contest. Independent MLA from north Kashmir Langate assembly constituency, Engineer Rashid has also said he will stand against the state chief minister for the Anantnag by-polls. Mehbooba Mufti presently represents the south Kashmir Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in the Lok Sabha. She has in the past won assembly elections thrice, in 1996 from Bijbehara, in 2002 from Pahalgam and in 2008 from Wachi assembly constituencies.