Known as "Chotta Kashmir", mountain locked Bhaderwah, which is part of Doda district in Chenab valley, has been a Congress bastion, which won the seat seven times including four times in a row.

However, in the upcoming Assembly elections, it is likely to be an acid test for Azad, who is the Congress's star campaigner and who led the party in his home turf Chenab valley's three districts in the 2008 Assembly  polls.

Congress won five out of six seats including Bhaderwah in 2008. "It is tough time for Congress even in Chenab valley. It will not be a cake-walk unlike in past, as Azad himself has an acid test to retain foothold in home turf and also the seats," veteran political analyst and former Director of Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, Prof K N Pandita said.

Azad's Cousin and two-time MLA Mohmmad Sharief Niaz, who was also a minister in Mufti Sayeed government in 2002, is in "direct" fight with BJP's Daleep Singh, who is banking on Modi's popularity and promise to give a state government on the model of BJP government at the Centre.
    
In the Bhadarwah Assembly constituency, 13 candidates are in the fray -- Bhoori Singh (Nationalist Congress Party), Daleep Singh (BJP), Riaz Anayatullah (JKNC), Sanjay Kumar (BSP), Sheikh Mehboob Iqbal  (JKPDP), Mohammad Sharief Niaz (INC), Narinder Kant (CPI), Nirej Singh Manhas (JKNPP), Sheikh Mohammad Shafi (SP), Er Om Parkash (Independent), Reyaz Ahmed Zargar (Independent), Dr Kuldeep Singh Charak (Independent) and Mehraj Din (Independent).
    
PDP candidate and former aide of Azad, Mehboob Iqbal, and National Conference candidate Riaz Anayatullah will further prove to be a spoilsport in the electoral fortunes of Congress.
    
In the 2008 Assembly elections, Azad bagged 48,238 seats against BJP candidate and former state President Daya Krishan, who won 8,802. Azad also won bi-annual elections in April 2006 and the Bhaderwah seat with over 58,000 votes against BJP candidate Dhanatar Singh.
    
Congress is seeking votes in the name of Azad here and showcasing achievements and works done by the government led by him from 2006 to 2008.
    
Azad, who is the star campaigner for Congress with over 23 rallies to his credit to woo voters in Chenab valley, is pitching for growth and prosperity and is reminding people of the 'Khushal Jammu and Kashmir' of his rule.

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