Next-generation leaders contribute to the Jammu and Kashmir campaign trail

The fact that the children of prominent political figures have accompanied their parents on the campaign trail for the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir this year is a noteworthy aspect of the proceedings. In one case, the leader’s son who was incarcerated took the lead on the canvassing while his father was away.

The next generation of political leaders emerged from the Lok Sabha elections, whether it was NC vice-president Omar Abdullah, whose sons Zamir and Zahir ran campaigns for him, or incarcerated politician Engineer Rashid, whose son Abrar oversaw the campaign while dad was away. PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti also ran several campaigns on her mother’s behalf.

Both Zamir and Zahir are attorneys by profession, and they were often seen with their father in the Baramulla constituency, where voting reached an all-time high on May 20. Together with their father, the two also went to the Keran sector. Along with him, they went to many party election gatherings.

Abrar Rashid, whose father Engineer Rashid is being held in Tihar prison on charges of supporting terrorism, carried out the most compelling propaganda. Abrar urged residents of the Baramulla seat to support his father in the election in order to free him from prison. If his father was elected to the Parliament, he promised the people that efforts would be made to free all young Kashmiris who were imprisoned.

In the remote regions of Pir Panjal in the Rajouri and Poonch districts of the Anantnag constituency, Iltija was seen conducting a Mehbooba campaign. On May 25, voters will cast ballots in this seat where Mehbooba is running for office.

Iltija, a member of the Gujjar group, made her election address in the Gojri language. A video of the speech went viral in J&K, showing her imploring the people in her nomadic village to vote for her mother. She was also seen interacting with Kashmiri people. She also went to the residence of Aijaz Ahmad Sheikh, a BJP leader who was shot and killed in Shopian by ultras.

Jai Sidh Bhalla is the party’s nominee for the Jammu Lok Sabha constituency and the son of Raman Bhalla, the current president of the J&K Congress. When Sidh posted a manipulated video of Home Minister Amit Shah, controversy sprang up. On May 2, Sidh was granted provisional bail. In addition, he was seen advocating for his father and participating in media interviews on the race.

While the offspring of politicians may or may not enter politics in the future, political analyst and former head of Jammu University’s political science department Rekha Chowdhary said that “they are definitely helping their parents during the time of need.” The son of Engineer Rashid, Chowdhary said, was taking up his father’s place in prison.

“Itija has shown interest in politics, but it remains to be seen whether she would be able to make wise choices in the years to come. Although it is impossible to predict if Omar Abdullah’s kids would enter politics in the near future, they undoubtedly present a cohesive family, the speaker said.

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