Once a traditional bastion of the National Conference, the Doda constituency in Chenab Valley region of Jammu division slipped away in 2002 and the party has not been able to come back since then. Shyam Bijyal writes on the future prospects
The politically sandwiched person between the bodily heavyweight Abdul Majid Wani of the Congress and lightweight Shakti Raj Parihar of the Bhartiya Janta Party is Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference.
Consequent upon the death of his father Maulana Attaullah Suhrawardy, the then MLA Doda and once a strong votary of Plebiscite Front with virulent anti-India rhetoric and right hand man of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah but later more humbled than honoured, the baton of NC passed on to Khalid Najeeb Suhrawardy, an engineering graduate, who won the 1997 by-election by securing 23564 votes while his rival Ajay Kumar of BJP got 7789 votes.
Though Minister of State for Home, Imam of town’s Jamia Masjid and a man with a clean image, Khalid could not retain his seat in 2002 when he was defeated by an independent, quite a novice, by a slender margin of 607 votes. In this election he got 13192 votes and his opponent 13799.
This defeat prompted his leader Dr. Farooq Abdullah to say that Khalid Suhrawardy would have to choose either imamat (clergy )or siyasat (politics) as both could not go hand in hand in a secular society.
His serial electoral defeats in 2002, 2008 and 2015 have led to the creation of a new narrative by his opponents particularly the Congress candidate that Khalid can never win elections and hence they have embarked on poaching his voters.
The fact is that he never went all out since 1997 till this day to woo minority Hindu voters who constitute a formidable bulk in the Constituency.
There is also another perception about him that he lacks the ready receptiveness & accessibility with the result the poor villagers are reluctant to meet him or feel ignored by his city workers.
There is a palpable resurgence of NC. Khalid has a strong vote base of 15000 to 17000 which is still intact. He can raise an edifice over this strong foundation provided to him by his late father & organization. If he succeeds to swim across the Chenab this time he will have his relevance, if not then oblivion.