Farooq Tastes First Defeat In Over Three Decades

16 May 2014
Rising Kashmir
Manzoor-ul-Hassan

Srinagar: In a major setback to National Conference, party president and union minister, Farooq Abdullah tasted his first electoral defeat in over three decades. PDP's Tariq Hamid Karra humbled him in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency by a huge margin of 42,183 votes. Karra, a former finance minister in the PDP-led government, polled 157923 votes against Abdullah's 115643. It was a comprehensive defeat for 76-year-old Abdullah as his party lost in 12 of the 15 assembly segments comprising the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, considered to be the stronghold of National Conference. After trouncing the two-time member parliament and three-time chief minister, Karra said: 'The credit goes to the people of Kashmir in general and youth in particular who voted for change. They have been suffering at the hands of NC led government for six years which has been using police and others forces to quell dissent among the people.' Addressing a crowd of jubilant supporters, who were waiting for many hours waving party flags at SKICC here, Karra said: 'We have shown big politicians can also be defeated. Politics can't be held hostage anymore to either corruption or family rule.' Karra said the PDP victory in parliamentary polls will have a cascading effect on assembly elections slated to be held later this year. 'This is the first level of our success which will have a cascading effect on assembly polls. I appeal party supporters and cadre to gear up for the second test,' he added. Karra credited PDP's win to its 'pro-people policies'. 'People have assessed our performance and pro-people policy. It's our party which has been pushing for the resolution of Kashmir issue and resolution of border disputes amicably,' he told Rising Kashmir. With three Lok Sabha seats in its kitty, the PDP has kept the option open for aligning with BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). 'PDP has no problem in supporting BJP provided they respect people's sentiment vis-à-vis resolution of Kashmir issue and human rights concerns,' Karra said. 'Our party would also want BJP led NDA to see Article 370 as per the wishes and aspirations of people,' the PDP leader said. After the first few rounds of counting, NC youth leader, Salman Sagar admitted that PDP has been able to make inroads in Srinagar parliamentary constituency. 'There is close contest in Srinagar as most of our voters stayed away from polling,' Salman told Rising Kashmir well before the final tally of votes came in. Out of the 15 assembly segments, PDP secured win in 12 segments. PDP secured Hazratbal, Eidgah, Sonwar, Khansahib, Budgam, Kangan, Ganderbal, Batmaloo, Chrar-e-Sharief, Beerwah, Chadoora and Zadibal assembly segments. NC could manage only Habba Kadal, Khanyar and Amira Kadal segments. Karra's ability to mobilize public support allowed to make him inroads in NC bastion. After counting results for Round 10 revealed Karra's lead, PDP workers burst firecrackers and distributed sweets outside the counting centre at SKICC. 'I am very happy. We were waiting for this moment for last two months. It is celebration time for all of us,' a PDP worker said. 'The mood of people has been translated into votes,' he said. 'We have secured a decisive mandate. We are elated. At the same time, we realize the responsibility placed on our shoulders by people,' said woman supporters, who were singing and dancing. In contrast the atmosphere in the NC camp was somber as defected workers were heard blaming local MLAs for Farooq's defeat. 'How can we win when they (NC MLAs) failed to reach out to people?' questioned a senior party activist from Ganderbal. Counting for Srinagar seat continued till late evening. There were 14 candidates in fray. Independent candidate Riyaz Ahmed Wani polled least number of votes (459). Fayaz Ahmed Bhat of BJP secured 4,467 votes followed by National Panthers Party candidate Muhammad Maqbool Malik who secured 583 votes. Aam Aadmi Party candidate Dr Raja Muzafar Bhat polled 3,271 votes. The candidates who crossed three-figure mark included Independents Aga Syed Mohsin (16050), BM Reshi (1215), Abdul Rashid Tantray (1668), Muhammad Shafi Guroo (1157) and Mirza Sajad Hussain Beigh (2,802 votes). 4,979 people had opted for NOTA in the Central Kashmir.