PDP Decimates NC

16 May 2014
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali, Khalid Gul & Altaf Baba

Srinagar: Opposition People's Democratic Party's Tariq Hamid Karra Friday handed over a shocking defeat to the ruling National Conference President and Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah from the Srinagar parliamentary constituency. Karra defeated Abdullah by 42,280 votes. The PDP candidate polled 157923 votes in comparison to 115643 votes secured by the NC patron. This is the first-ever loss of both National Conference as well as Abdullah from the central Kashmir parliamentary constituency which comprises of 15 assembly segments spread over three districts of Budgam, Srinagar and Ganderbal. In total, the constituency had polled 312212 votes. The worrying sign for the National Conference was that the party suffered heavily in its electoral history in the Assembly segments which have traditionally remained its strongholds. The PDP swept the key segments like Ganderbal represented by party's working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in State Assembly, MianAltaf'sKangan and Charari-Sharief represented by Abdur Rahim Rather. These segments had a tradition of voting in bulk in favor of National Conference but this time they handed over a lead of over 9000 votes to PDP's Karra which became one of the key reasons for loss of Abdullah, whose political career has spanned over 32 years. During the 2009 parliamentary polls, Abdullah, who has been three-time Chief Minister of J&K and two-time MP, had won by around 30000 votes but he had secured a lead of over 26000 from the two constituencies of Charar-i-Sharief and Kangan. 'We are thankful to people who voted for the change,' said Karra after he came out from the counting center at SKICC, soon after he was declared the winner. 'We will do our best to live up to the expectations of people who have reposed faith in us.' Karra, who had won 2002 Assembly elections and served as Finance Minister under Mufti Muhammad Sayeed-led government, did not waste the opportunity to attack National Conference and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. 'It is unfortunate that they are still playing politics over the blood of Kashmiris,' Karra said in reference to Omar's statement earlier in the day that Afzal Guru's hanging and 2010 killings might have been the reason behind his party's defeat. In a significant gain for the PDP, Srinagar too opened its doors for the party as it swept five out of eight assembly constituencies from the district which included Hazratbal, Eidgah, Zadibal, and Sonwar. But the big relief for Karra, one of the founding members of the PDP, would be the win in Batamaloo assembly segment where he had suffered defeat at the hands of National Conference's Irfan Shah in the 2008 Assembly elections. The counting trend, held in a smooth manner, started this morning in favor of the PDP and till the last vote was counted the PDP maintained upper hand in all 12 Assembly segments it won. PDP'S RESOUNDING COMEBACK IN SOUTH The Peoples Democratic Party Friday made a resounding comeback in South Kashmir Parliamentary seat, with its candidate and party president Mehbooba Mufti, emerging victorious by a huge margin of 65,417 votes. The PDP had lost the seat to National Conference's Mehboob Beg in the 2009 LokSabha polls with a narrow margin of 5000 votes. Beg, the NC-Congress coalition candidate, this time failed to retain the seat and was trounced by the PDP. The National Conference failed to gain a lead in any of the 16 Assembly segments of South Kashmir. Interestingly, it could not even manage a lead in Dooru and Kokernag assembly segments, considered to be the Congress strongholds, as also Noorabad segment, considered to be the NC stronghold. The PDP scored over NC in areas which witnessed the poll boycott. 12 candidates were in the fray for this seat and of the total 3,70,505 votes polled, PDP secured 2,00,429 votes and NC- Congress coalition bagged only 1,35,012 votes. Tanveer Ahmad Khan of AwamiItihad Party (AIP) bagged 7340 votes and managed third slot, while the BhartiyaJanata Party (BJP) candidate Mushtaq Ahmad Malik got 4740 votes and JKNPP candidate Syed Abid Shah got 4345 votes, securing fourth and fifth berth respectively. The BSP candidate Muhammad Shafi got 3383 votes and AamAadmi Party (AAP) candidate and son of former Janta Dal Union Minister Maqbool Dar-TanveerMaqbool-secured 3252 votes. 5243 voters in the constituency exercised their franchise by pressing on the NOTA option introduced for the first time by the Election Commission. The National Conference was routed in all 16 Assembly segments of South Kashmir: The cross voting in Congress strongholds, according to political pundits, is believed to have turned the tables in favor of the PDP. The coalition which campaigned together for the polls failed to turn the Congress vote in the NC's favor in many areas. In Dooru Assembly segment, which is represented by Congress leader Ghulam Ahmad Mir in the Legislative Assembly and is considered to be its stronghold, the PDP secured 16452 votes as opposed to NC-Congress coalition candidate's 12485-vindicating the reports of cross voting. Similarly in Kokernag Assembly segment, which again is represented by Congress leader Peerzada Muhammad Syed, the PDP remained way ahead of NC securing 21300 votes to NC's 12743. 'The area however, of late, with its new face Abdul Rahim Rather has grown as a strong base for the PDP, but cross-voting can't be ignored as a factor for the PDP win here,' said a political analyst. Shangus Assembly segments, which also had a substantial Congress vote bank despite the PDP leader Peer MansoorHussain representing the area, also gave clear mandate to the PDP. The party secured 15504 votes as compared to coalition's 9627 votes. The big surprise, however, was thrown by Noorbad Assembly segment in Kulgam district, considered to be the stronghold of NC. The lone Assembly member of NC from South Kashmir constituency and Minister for Social Welfare, SakinaItoo, is wresting the seat. The Assembly segment witnessed a huge turnout of 72 percent, making pundits believe that the area would give a substantial lead to the NC. However, much to the surprise of everyone, the PDP managed to get a lead of 148 votes here, with 24753 votes going in its favor in comparison to 24605 votes to the coalition candidate, DrMehboob Beg. The area during 2002 Assembly elections was represented by PDP leader, Late Abdul Aziz Zargar, who was later defeated by SakinaItoo with a huge margin in the 2008 Assembly elections. Former Congress leader Abdul Majid Padder who joined PDP is the party's new face in the area. In Kulgam Assembly segment, where the voter turnout remained low partly due to the election boycott and partly because the sitting MLA and CPI(M) leader had decided against fielding any candidate, the PDP got 10112 votes as compared to NC's 5043. A substantial number of voters here, around 900, had pressed a NOTA button. Pahalgam and Devsar Assembly segment which were the only two Assembly segments, other than Noorabad Assembly segment, witnessed a huge voter turnout and gave a clear mandate to the PDP. In Pahalgam PDP polled 24355 votes as compared to NC's 14124 while in Devsar PDP secured 18047 votes as compared to coalition candidate's 15016 votes. Congress had a substantial vote bank in Devsar but political analysts opine that coalition might not have been able to transfer it towards the NC candidate. Wachi Assembly segment, which is being herself represented by Mehbooba Mufti, also gave a lead to the PDP but the margin remained lower than expected. PDP got 7325 votes as compared to NC's 6222 votes. In Bijbehara Assembly segment, which is the home constituency of Muftis, the PDP got 17987 votes as compared to NC's 10790. In Home Shalibugh Assembly segment which witnessed low voter turnout, the PDP got 6211 votes while as NC secured 4939 votes. Similarly in Rajpora and Pampore Assembly segments of Pulwama district, which witnessed a total boycott of polls, the PDP got 9391 and 3661 votes as compared to NC's 5327 and 739 votes respectively. In Shopian which also witnessed poll boycott, the PDP polled 11019 votes as compared to NC's 6636 votes. In the volatile Tral Assembly segment which recorded the lowest voter turnout of 0.8 percent, the PDP polled votes in three digits with 793 votes as compared to NC's mere 356 votes. The Islamabad Assembly segment, represented by PDP Patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, the PDP maintained the lead with 9467 votes as compared to NC candidate's 4808 votes. The constituency is the home constituency of Mehboob Beg. BAIG DEFEATS BARAMULLA Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former deputy chief minister MuzaffarHussainBaig Friday won the Baramulla-Kupwara parliamentary seat by defeating his NC rival and two-time MP Sharief-ud-Din Shariq with a huge margin of 29219 votes. Out of the total 466039 votes counted, PDP got 175277 and NC 146058 votes. People's Conference remained at the third position with 71154 votes while AwamiIttehad party of Er Rashid got 22090 votes. Around 4568 voters opted for NOTA option. Baig told media persons that people voted for change and massive victory for the PDP in all the three Parliamentary constituencies reflects the mood of the people. He said people have reposed faith in PDP and are optimistic that the party will work for peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. 'It is a vote for change and the verdict clearly shows that people have reposed faith in PDP's policies. PDP candidates will represent people's aspirations in the Parliament,' said Baig. Baig said poll boycott is acceptable if not enforced through gun and stone-pelting. 'However, this time boycott call was enforced by NC and others through intimidation and stone-pelting,' he alleged. With PDP registering landmark victory in north Kashmir, the results of Baramulla-Kupwara parliamentary polls clearly show that National Conference has lost its supremacy even in the areas which were perceived to be its strongholds. In Pattan area of north Kashmir, while PDP got 10733 votes, NC managed just 3785 votes. In Gulmarg assembly segment represented by Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, NC managed 9330 votes compared to PDP which got 13661 votes. Sangrama constituency has set new records for PDP where it managed to get 8706 votes compared to 1871 votes by NC. In Sonawari assembly segment considered to be an NC stronghold, PDP managed a lead of 479 votes over NC. While PDP got 20914 votes, NC got 20435 votes. In Rafiabad assembly segment, PDP got a lead of 1489 votes over NC. While PDP got 7869, NC managed 6380 votes. In Uri PDP got 16291 votes while NC managed 18893. It is for the first time that in Uri segment, PDP managed such a huge number of votes. For NC only good news has come from Handwara and Gurez assembly segments where it took lead over PDP. In Handwara Peoples Conference took the lead with 23786 votes as NC got 21528 votes while PDP managed 9673. In Gurez assembly segment NC managed to take a lead of 1861 votes over PDP. In Baramulla assembly segment PDP got a huge number of 13063 votes while NC managed just 3447 votes. In Kupwara assembly segment PDP got 21275 votes while NC managed 19370 votes. PC got 19013 votes. In Lolab assembly segment PDP got 23945 votes as compared to 18059 votes by NC. PC got 9868 votes. Similarly in Karnah PDP managed a lead of 3434 votes over NC. PC got 2502 votes. In Sopore PDP got 535 votes while NC managed 272 votes. In Langate assembly segment while PDP got 7284 votes, NC got 3571 and AIP 12607 votes. In Bandipora PDP got 7176 votes, NC 6922 and PC 1010 while AIP got 1680 votes.