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Dara: It is the young versus the old generation in this remote area of Sonawar constituency where Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is locked in a multi-cornered contest.

Braving early morning chill and defying separatists' boycott call, the voters assembled at polling stations -- most located in the picturesque Zabarwan hill range overlooking Dal Lake -- much before the scheduled start of polling at 8 AM.

While most of the elderly voters were vocal in their support for the oldest political party of the state, National Conference, the younger generation is seeking a change.

"We still vote for the plough (symbol of National Conference). We have stood by this party through thick and thin and cannot change loyalties at this age," 75-year-old Fateh Mohammad told PTI at Chak-e-Dara polling station.

For Mohammad, it does not matter that the roads in his village have never been black-topped or the school, where the polling was going on is in a dilapidated condition.

"National Conference is symbol of Kashmir and dignity of its people. We are a poor state ... Infrastructure development will happen in due course," he said.

However, the younger generation does not agree with this thought process, saying change is inevitable.

"We want development. We want employment and we want change," Mohammad Iqbal, a 25-year-old who was voting for the first time, said.

Iqbal and many youth like him feel that not voting in the last assembly elections was mistake.

"The fate of this constituency was decided by just 50 odd votes and we got a representative (Mohammad Yasin Shah of NC) who never bothered to visit this area during the last six years," Fayaz Ahmad, another young voter, charged.

In Faqir Gujri, once considered to be a National Conference bastion, the voters are as divided as in Chak-e-Dara. Serpentine queues outside the polling station is nothing new for this Gujjar belt of the constituency.

"The poll percentage in this segment is going to be high but no one can hazard a guess this time which candidate is the favourite," 56-year-old Mohammad Abdullah said.

In Shallabugh area of the constituency, which is dominated by Shia population, the voters want a change. This area has all the amenities that some city dwellers are craving for like good roads, 24-hour electricity supply, schools and clean drinking water.

"This area has been exploited for the past 60 years and now we want a change," Shabir Ahmad, who was waiting for his turn cast his vote, said.

The constest for this constituency is expected to be direct fight between Omar and PDP candidate Mohammad Ashraf Mir but Independent candidate Bilal Ahmad is likely to play spoil sport for either of the two.

Bilal hails from the Shia community and the Sonawar constituency, one of the largest in the city, has a significant population of the community.

From Zee News

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BJP 25 25 14
CONG 12 12 -5
NC 15 15 -13
PDP 28 28 7
OTH 7 7 -3
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Party Won Trends Swing
BJP+ 42 42 19
CONG 6 6 -8
JMM 19 19 1
JVM+ 8 8 -3
OTH 6 6 -9
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