Bharatiya Janata Party and National Conference

SRINAGAR — Bharatiya Janata Party was declared the winner of both parliamentary seats in Jammu province while the authorities declared National Conference candidate Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi the winner from the Srinagar parliamentary seat.

Though the official results for Baramulla and Anantnag-Rajouri were not declared until late evening, it was clear from the last round of counting that Engineer Rashid was winning the Baramulla seat and the NC’s Mian Altaf Anantnag-Rajouri seat respectively.

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Interestingly, two former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti suffered defeats from two Lok Sabha constituencies of Kashmir.

Kashmir Valley has three Lok Sabha constituencies. National Conference leaders Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi and Mian Altaf won the Srinagar (Central Kashmir) and Anantnag (South Kashmir) Lok Sabha constituencies, respectively. Similarly, jailed leader Er Rashid emerged as the winner from the Baramulla (North Kashmir) constituency.

Among the three, Mian Altaf and Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi were contesting the Parliamentary polls for the first time, while Er Rashid had fought unsuccessfully in the 2019 elections.

From Baramulla, Er Rashid defeated Omar Abdullah by a good margin. In Anantnag, Mehbooba Mufti also suffered a big defeat. Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency was otherwise considered a stronghold of the PDP, the native place of Mehbooba.

After his loss, Omar said, “I think it’s time to accept the inevitable. Congratulations to Engineer Rashid for his victory in North Kashmir. I don’t believe his victory will hasten his release from prison nor will the people of North Kashmir get the representation they have a right to, but the voters have spoken, and in a democracy, that’s all that matters.”

Similarly, Mehbooba said she respects the verdict of the people. “I thank my PDP workers and leaders for their hard work and support despite all the odds. My deepest gratitude to the people who voted for me. Winning and losing is part of the game and won’t deter us from our path. Congratulations to Mian Altaf for his victory.”

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Going back to the past, in 1989 parliamentary polls, PL Handoo of the National Conference candidate emerged as the winner of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.

The parliamentary polls were again held in 1991 across India but could not take place in Kashmir due to the volatile situation in the valley. This had prompted the Centre to promulgate an ordinance to defer elections for these seats.

In the 1996 polls, the Janta Dal candidate Muhammad Maqbool Dar emerged as the winner of this Lok Sabha constituency. Mufti Muhammad Sayeed won the South Kashmir Parliamentary seat in 1998 on the Congress ticket and the polls recorded around 28 percent voter turnout.

In 1999, the Lok Sabha seat of South Kashmir was won by the National Conference candidate Ali Muhammad Naik. The voter turnout stood at less than 20 per cent. The elections were conducted against the backdrop of the National Conference leader Saifuddin Soz, who voted in defiance of the party whip against the BJP-led coalition government during the confidence motion in Lok Sabha. He later joined the Congress party.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party maintained its winning streak in Jammu for the third consecutive term.

Of the five Lok Sabha seats in the union territory, BJP candidates Jugal Kishore Sharma and Jitendra Singh, MoS PMO, retained their seats for a third consecutive term. However, the party stayed away from announcing candidates in Kashmir.

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The Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference, part of the INDIA bloc, fielded candidates in three seats in the Valley and emerged victorious in two.

This was the first major election in the region after the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Omar Abdullah, who ran from North Kashmir’s Baramulla seat, was defeated by jailed leader and two-time MLA Er Rashid, who contested as an independent candidate.

With Rashid in jail, his sons Abrar, 23, and brother Asrar, 21, spearheaded the campaign in the constituency, addressing rallies that drew massive crowds in the bordering region.

Baramulla was among the closely watched seats where People Conference president Sajjad Lone was also in the race.

According to the Election Commission of India data, Rashid was winning the seat with a margin of over two lakh votes. The Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) also fielded its former Rajya Sabha MP in the seat, but he did not emerge as a main challenger.

Though the PDP did not win any seats, it was part of the INDIA bloc. Mehbooba Mufti wanted to contest from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat, but Omar Abdullah did not leave the seat and fielded tribal leader Mian Altaf, who won.

Following the National Conference’s refusal to collaborate, the PDP fielded candidates in all three seats in the Valley and backed Congress candidates in the Jammu region.

The lone Lok Sabha seat in Ladakh went to independent candidate Haji Hanifa, a Kargil resident who won with a margin of over 27,000 votes. In Ladakh, the BJP had replaced its incumbent MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal with Tashi Gyalson.

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