…NC-Congress lose Kashmir

SRINAGAR: A minority of the people that participated in the Lok Sabha elections in Kashmir Valley has voted out ruling National Conference (NC) even as an apparent Modi-wave has routed out the party’s ally Congress from Jammu and its stronghold Ladakh.
In the Valley, the oldest regional party NC has suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), losing all three seats to the latter.
The three sitting Parliament Members of NC, including its 77-year-old president Farooq Abdullah, lost to PDP candidates in north, south, and in central Kashmir.
Abdullah, who hadn’t lost any election in his political career till Friday morning, faced the historic defeat from PDP’s Tariq Hamid Karra. He lost his bastion Srinagar parliamentary constituency, which is spread on three central Kashmir districts of Srinagar, Budgam, and Ganderbal, with a significant margin of 42, 280 votes.
In south Kashmir, NC suffered an even bigger defeat in terms of the number of votes. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti won the Anantnag parliamentary seat by a margin of 65, 417 votes, defeating NC’s senior leader Mehboob Beigh.
Baramulla seat went to PDP’s Muzaffar Hussain Beigh who defeated Sharief-ud-Din Shariq of NC by a margin of 29, 219 votes.
Irrespective of the controversies associated with poll participation in the state, it is one of the most surprising verdicts that has come from the pro-election electorate in the Valley. In the past, NC, particularly the Abdullahs, had a rather easy victory in the Parliamentary elections.
This time, the party had contested the elections with a seat-sharing understanding with the Congress. Under the agreement, NC had fielded candidates in Valley alone while the Congress competed for two seats of Jammu and one seat of Ladakh.
However, both NC and Congress have witnessed a drop in their overall performance. NC slipped from 19.11 per cent to 11 per cent and Congress from 24.67 per cent to 22.9 per cent. PDP on the other hand has made a marginal improvement, going up to 21 per cent from 20 per cent in 2009.
However, an apparent Modi-wave has cost Congress both its stronghold Ladakh and Hindu-majority Jammu.
In Jammu, BJP’s Jugal Kishore defeated Congress’s Madan Lal Sharma by 257,280 votes while Ghulam Nabi Azad, a seasoned politician of Congress, lost to Dr Jitendra Singh of BJP by 60,976 votes.
The only close contest was seen in Ladakh where the final difference between the winner and the loser was of mere 37 votes. The constituency, which has been a stronghold of Congress, went to Thupstan Chhewang of BJP, who defeated two independent candidates and a Congress man Tsering Samphel. As the counting ended, Samphel was having the least number of votes.
BJP overall performance has, however, improved in the state with its vote share having almost doubled from 18.61 per cent in 2009 to 32.4 per cent.
On the other hand, Modi’s influence that was evident across India and in Jammu and Ladakh regions of the state, has, however, failed to show any impact in the Valley. BJP candidates in Anantnag Mushtaq Ahmad Malik, was nowhere in the picture with his final vote count of 4720. And the party’s candidate in Srinagar, Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, and in Baramulla, G M Mir, shared a similar fate, bagging 4467 and 6558 votes, respectively.
The new entrants in the Parliamentary contest have also failed to make a mark.
Having chosen to contest against ‘corrupt’ senior politicians in the Valley, New Delhi-based Aam Admi Party (AAP) suffered a massive defeat both in Srinagar and Anantnag.
Raja Muzaffar, who contested on AAP ticket from Srinagar, got only 3271 votes while Dr Tanvir Maqbool Dar of AAP received 3252 votes.
Sajjad Lone’s Peoples Conference has also failed to pose a serious challenge to the candidates of PDP and NC. The party’s candidate Salamuddin Bajad was second in the list of losers from Baramulla with 71,154 votes.
Er Rashid, whose newly-formed Awami Itihaad Party (AIP) was contesting Parliamentary elections for the first time, has only got 22, 090 votes in Baramulla constituency, which included his hometown and stronghold Handwara town.