NC and BJP Get Equal Mandate In Jammu and Kashmir

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SRINAGAR: In the Lok Sabha elections, the results of which were announced on Thursday, National Conference and BJP have won three seats each. While NC retained all the three Kashmir seats, BJP retained its three seats – two in Jammu and one in Ladakh.

Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency that Dr Jitendra Singh retained, emerged as the only constituency where the winner had a huge margin. Dr Singh was a minister of state in the PMO and key adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Jammu and Kashmir. He polled 714300 votes which make 61.18 percent of 1167629, all the votes that were polled in the vast constituency.

Dr Singh defeated Vikramadatiya Singh of Congress who secured a total of 365955, almost half of what the winner got. Vikramadatiya is Dr Karan Singh’s son and belongs to the family that owned the state for more than a century.

During campaigning, it was being said that the Muslims living in the Chenab Valley, the Panthers Party and Choudhary Lal Singh would be able to cut a sizable chunk of votes to deny Dr Singh a victory. But all these ivory tower arguments failed as BJP candidate did not leave any vote to be distributed among Panthers and the Lal Singh.

Congress, however, put a huge battle in Jammu. BJP candidate Jugal Kishore secured 840214 votes which make 57.74 percent of the 1455290 that were polled in the constituency. Congress candidate Raman Bhalla succeeded in securing more than half a million votes – 551187 to be exact. All other contestants did not really matter as it was BJP versus Congress. In Jammu, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) took more votes than the bigger claimants to the mandate.

In Ladakh, however, the Congress literally gave the Lok Sabha seat to the BJP. It had an interesting contest. BJP and Congress were pitted against each other in Leh and both the candidates were Buddhists. In Kargil, Congress’s senior leader Asgar Karbalie rebelled against the party and contested as an independent. Various other parties including NC, PDP and Dr Shah Feasal’s party supported an independent candidate, Sajad Hussain. Though Hussain managed a defeat to Kargblaie, the situation shifted quickly when the votes of Leh were counted. BJP candidate was huge voted by the district and managed to win the seat.

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, the BJP candidate secured 41315 votes, defeating Sajjad Hussain, who had secured 31552 votes. Congress official candidate Rigzin Spalbar polled 20447 votes and Karbalie, the unofficial Congress candidate, got 29069. Had the two Congressmen joined hands, they would have secured the seat that BJP had wrested from them in 2014 by a slender margin of 36 votes.

Story of the election in Kashmir was interestingly different, partly because it was a low poll election. NC swept all the three seats.

The most interesting was north Kashmir Baramulla where political analysts failed as Sajjad Lone led Peoples Conference ended a runner up. He had fielded a former police officer Aijaz Ali Khan, who spent a few post-retirement with the PDP.

BJP Party workers and leaders celebrated victory at Srinagar on Thursday, May 23, 2019. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Though Baramulla was the most polled constituency in this election, only 447019 votes were counted. Former assembly speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone won the seat by securing 447019 votes. Khan ended a runner up with 102235 votes. PDP’s Abdul Qayoom Wani ended up at No 4 position by securing only 52801. This situation was created by Engineer Rasheed who maintained a lead for initial 10 runs and ended up securing 100080 votes. He was the contestant who got most of the emotional and the new vote.

Srinagar went ahead on expected lines. Dr Farooq Abdullah retained the seat that he had lost in 2014 and then regained in a by-election a year later. Of the 186832 votes polled in Srinagar, Dr Farooq Abdullah secured 106750 votes. The runner up was PDP’s Agha Syed Mohsin who bagged 36700 votes. Peoples Conference’s Irfan Raza Ansari ended at No 3, with 28773 votes.

The South Kashmir Anantnag was dramatic and interesting. It was polled in three phases and the least polled exercise saw Ms Mehbooba Mufti actually ending up at No 3. Interestingly, the region is considered the main support base of the PDP.

National Conference leader Justice Hasnain Masoodi after the election victory in Anantnag on Thursday, May 23, 2019. KL Image by Aaqib Hyder

Only 124896 votes were to be counted as the constituency witnessed a 91 percent boycott. Of these votes, it was NC’s justice (retired) Husanain Masoodi who bagged 40180 votes. Congress’s Ghulam Ahmad Mir ended up a runner up with 33504 votes. Mehbooba Mufti ended up at No 3 with 33504 votes. Interestingly, BJPs Sofi Yousuf got 10225 votes, 7251 cast by migrants and 538 by service voters.

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