NC May Be Down, But Not Out: Party A Runner-up In 32 Seats

2 January 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Amir Karim Tantray and Amit Khajuria

Jammu: Despite the performance of the National Conference being the worst ever in the recently concluded Assembly elections, the oldest political party of J&K cannot be written off yet as it was the runner-up in 32 constituencies. The party got 15 seats. At the same time, the People Democratic Party (PDP), which is 15-years old, has been improving with each passing year. Being the single largest party by getting 28 seats, the PDP remained runner-up on 22 seats which is a positive signal for the party leaders that in the upcoming elections they can grab more seats by putting in more efforts. The Congress won 12 seats but remained runner-up on 19 seats, while the BJP, which created history by winning 25 seats, remained runner-up only on seven seats. Going by its performance, the saffron party had no chance of reaching the magical figure of 44-plus seats to get simple majority in the House of 87. Other political parties, including Independent candidates, remained runners-up on seven seats. On the one side the Assembly elections saw the emergence of 56 first-timers who were elected to the Assembly, stalwarts of various parties lost by a huge margin of votes. Some of them were not even on the second position. Of the 87 constituencies, only 10 seats witnessed close contest. Six PDP and four Congress candidates lost the elections by less that 1,000 votes. On closely fought seats, caretaker Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) working president Omar Abdullah won the Beerwah Assembly seat of Budgam district by 910 votes. He defeated Congress candidate Nazir Ahmed Khan. The closest fight was on the Gurez Assembly constituency of Bandipora district where NC candidate Nazir Ahmed Gurezi defeated Faqir Muhammad Khan of the Congress. Other seats which saw a close fight were Dooru, Eidgah, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Kupwara, Pahalgam, Sonawari and Zanskar. On the Dooru seat of south Kashmir's Anantnag district, former minister and Congress candidate Ghulam Ahmed Mir lost to the PDP candidate Syed Farooq Ahmed Andrabi by 161 votes. The Eidgah seat of Srinagar district was retained by NC leader Mubarak Gul by defeating PDP candidate Ali Muhammad Wani and on the Ganderbal seat, vacated by Omar Abdullah, NC candidate Ishfaq Ahmed Sheikh managed to secure a win over PDP leader Qazi Muhammad Afzal by 597 votes. Stalwarts who couldn't make it to the top and remained runner-up were former Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, former Deputy Speaker and PDP leader Muhammad Sartaj Madni, former PHE Minister and staunch pro-Jammu Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma, former Horticulture Minister Raman Bhalla, former R&B Minister and Congress leader Abdul Majeed Wani, former Planning Minister Ajay Sadhotra and former MoS for Home Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo.