Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti
Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti

SRINAGAR — The Lok Sabha election results in Kashmir have sprung a few surprises as former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were humbled at the hustings by lesser-known candidates.

While Mufti lost to Gujjar leader and National Conference candidate Mian Altaf Ahmad by a huge margin in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat, Abdullah was defeated by former MLA and militancy financing accused Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias Engineer Rashid in Baramulla.

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Also to fall by the wayside was People’s Conference president Sajjad Gani Lone in the Baramulla seat in northern Kashmir.

Rashid, a 56-year-old former MLA from the Langate assembly segment in Kupwara district, was arrested in 2019 and charged by the NIA under UAPA. He was the first mainstream politician to be booked under the anti-terror law. His campaign was run by his son Abrar, who thanked people for their “love and support”.

“I am thankful to people who not only supported our campaign but showered their love and converted it into votes as well. Winning or losing doesn’t matter much to us. What matters to me is the love we got from the people,” Abrar told reporters after his father took a substantial lead.

Abdullah conceded defeat and congratulated Rashid on his victory. “I think it’s time to accept the inevitable. Congratulations to Engineer Rashid for his victory in North Kashmir,” Abdullah said in a post on ‘X’.

He said voters have spoken and in a democracy, that is all that matters. “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,” Abdullah said.

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Lone also conceded defeat and congratulated Rashid. “With all humility at my command I accept defeat. And it is time to congratulate Engineer Rashid. I wanted to make a difference. I thought we should be empowered economically, socially and politically to be able to make a difference and be counted. We had suffered a lot in the past 30 yrs and been robbed of all our dignity. The people’s mandate is supreme. I accept the people’s mandate with all humility,” Lone posted on ‘X’.

Another key player in Jammu and Kashmir politics, Mehbooba Mufti said winning and losing are part of the game.

“Respecting the verdict of the people I thank my PDP workers & leaders for their hard work & support despite all the odds. My deepest gratitude to the people who voted for me. Winning & losing is part of the game & won’t deter us from our path,” she posted on X.

Her daughter Iltija Mufti said she accepted the “verdict of the people” and thanked the PDP workers and voters.

“We accept the verdict of the people. My deepest gratitude to PDP workers & leaders for their hard work & the people who voted for Mehbooba ji. Our journey of rebuilding PDP has only begun & Inshallah we will fulfil Mufti sahab’s vision. And Mum I love you & will always have your back,” she posted on ‘X’.

In the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, National Conference leader Aga Roohullah Mehdi defeated rival candidate and PDP youth president Waheed Para.

“I thank the people for the mandate. I want to tell them that their mandate will be respected and they will be represented in Parliament in the way for which they have given their mandate,” Roohullah told reporters at the counting centre here.

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The influential Shia leader congratulated Engineer Rashid on his victory.

“I also wanted to congratulate Omar Abdullah, but as per the trend, it seems the people have decided otherwise. I hope that they get what they voted for, the release of Engineer sahab. I want to congratulate Engineer Rashid and his family and respect this mandate,” he said.

Roohullah said he will raise the abrogation of Article 370 in Parliament.

“I will raise the issue of what was snatched from us and that we do not accept the decisions taken on August 5, 2019. I will vociferously take their voice to Parliament and seek its restoration. This mandate increases my responsibility,” he added.

Para said people of Kashmir have spoken for the first time in years.

Apni Party founder Altaf Bukhari said the results in Kashmir have signalled an end to dynastic rule here.

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir have spoken, and their verdict is clear. With grace and humility, we accept the outcome of the election. The rejection of dynastic politics and the defeat of the former two chief ministers of J&K is a resounding message, and we acknowledge the desire for change,” Bukhari said.

He said his party will use this opportunity to introspect, learn from its mistakes and emerge stronger and more resilient.

“We respect the democratic process and the will of the people, and we look forward to a fresh start. May this new chapter bring prosperity, peace and progress to Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

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