Out of Safe Zone

As results came out for 2014 elections many solid political foundations were shaken to the base. Shah Abbas analyzes how PDP took fight right in to NC’s safe zones and emerged winners

Mehbooba Mufti  and Tariq Hameed Karra after Party’s win  Pics: Bilal Bahadur
Mehbooba Mufti and Tariq Hameed Karra after Party’s win
Pics: Bilal Bahadur

“I cannot blame congress for cross voting because my own senior cabinet ministers could not manage their constituencies,” visibly an upset Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, told media persons while reacting to the defeat of coalition candidates by the hands of PDP in the valley and BJP in Jammu and Ladakh.

Omar was obviously referring to Mian Altaf Hussain, Mubarak Gul, Mir Saifulla, Sakina Itoo, Ghulam Hassan Mir, M Akbar Lone and others “who could not manage their constituencies despite some good developmental works done.”

After an anxious wait of more than a month the principal opposition party PDP shocked the ruling NC-Cong coalition. The PDP emerged victorious in the five out of eight in Srinagar district, all the two of Ganderbal and four out of five assembly segments of district Budgam. Pertinently, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah himself represents the Ganderbal assembly segment in the state assembly.

Referring to the votes secured by the coalition government especially in the valley, most of the political scientists are of the opinion that NC has lost the mandate.

The PDP secured 9083 votes in the assembly segment of Hazratbal against NCs 3176. Hazratbal is represented by the third senior member of the Sheikh family, Mustafa Kamal in the state assembly. The PDP virtually won the assembly segments of Zadibal, Eidgah, Sonwar and Batamaloo as well in the Srinagar district and left NC with only Khanyar, Habbakadal and Amirakadal assembly segments.

In district Ganderbal PDP won all the two assembly segments of Ganderbal and Kangan securing 13220 and 21124 votes against NCs 10307 and 17527 respectively.

In district Budgam, the party led by the active lady, whitewashed NC and stood victorious in all the five segments of Chadoora, Budgam, Beerwah, Khansahab and Chara-e-Sharief securing 16127, 15377, 13012, 15868 and 26870 votes respectively.

According to the guidelines of the EC, after the postal ballots were counted, the process of counting votes from the EVMs began and PDP started beating NC. The party was leading from the very first hour and it ended up with flying colours from every nook and corner of the valley. Though the result of Srinagar Lok Sabha seat came out at the end but the winner Tariq Hameed Karra was declared “man of the match” who defeated the NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah. This is the first ever election defeat of 81 years old Farooq in his long political career.

On Baramulla Lok Sabha seat also, Mufti’s PDP bulldozed the NC veterans like Mir Saifullah. The party stood victorious in 11 assembly segments out of a total of 15. The party’s performance was slightly bad only in Chaudhary Ramzan’s Handwara, Er Rashid’s Langate, Taj-Mohi-ul-din’s Uri and Nazir Gureiz’s Gurez. Handwara segment was won by PC’s Bajad who polled 23787 votes. PDP stood second by securing 21528 votes.

PDPs Muzaffar Hussain Baig won over NCs Sharif-ul-din Shariq securing 175277 votes against Shariq’s 146058. Shariq had defeated PDPs Mohammad Dilawar Mir by 64814 votes in 2009 contest. Shariq had censured 203022 against Mir’s 138208 votes.

The party secured 10915, 21275, 23995, 7284, 7869, 535, 7176, 20914, 8706, 13063, 13661 and 10733 votes respectively in Karnah, Kupwara, Lolab, Rafiabad, Sopore, Bandipora, Sonawari, Sangrama, Baramulla, Gulmarg and Pattan segments. Much to the relief of the party its MLAs were successful to retain their constituencies not only in Baramulla but in Islamabad as well.

It was PDPs dynamic president Mehbooba Mufti who was contesting from Islamabad. She defeated her NC rival Dr Mehboob Baig by a margin of 65417 votes. Dr Baig had won from the south in 2009 defeating PDPs Peer M Hussain by 5224 votes. In 2009 PDP had secured 143093 votes while as in the 2014 contest it secured 200429 votes 57336 more than 2009.

The PDP retained all the 16 assembly segments of Islamabad Lok Sabha seat. Islamabad consists of four districts of Islamabad, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama. The party secured 9467, 17987, 24355, 15504, 16452 and 21300 votes in Islamabd, Bijbehara, Pahalgam, Shangas, Dooru and Kokernag segments of Islamabad district against NCs 4808, 10790, 14124, 9627, 12485 and 12743.

PDP  supporters celebrating party’s win. Pic: Bilal Bahadur
PDP supporters celebrating party’s win.
Pic: Bilal Bahadur

In Kulgam district PDP secured 10112, 18047, 27753 and 6211 votes in Kulgam, Devsar, Noorabad and Homshalibugh segments respectively against NCs 5043, 15016, 24605 and 4943.

Pulwama which witnessed severe protests on the polling day, PDP succeeded in retaining all the four segments. It secured 2319, 793, 9391 and 3661 votes respectively in Pulwama, Tral, Rajpora and Pampore segments against NCs 992, 356, 5327 and 139.

In Shopian district were a polling officer got killed in a militant attack on the polling day, PDP secured 11019 and 7325 votes respectively in Shopian and Wacchi segments against NCs 6638 and 6222. Mehbooba herself represents Wacchi in the state assembly.

On Udhampur-Doda seat, the coalition stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad lost to BJP. Azad was contesting Lok Sabha election for the first time on his home turf. The defeat of Azad is a same shocker to Congress as the defeat of Farooq is for NC in Kashmir. To many it is the second shocker to the NC led coalition.

Azad secured 426393 votes while as his winning rival, Jatindar Singh Rana of BJP got 487369 votes. Singh won by 60976 votes. PDPs Mohammad Arshad Malik secured 30461 votes, more than the veteran Professor Bhim Singh, who secured just 25312 votes.

The Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat was won by BJPs Jugal Kishore defeating Madan Lal Sharma of Congress by a margin of 257280. Kishore of BJP secured 619995 against 362715 of Sharma of congress. But the political scientists were surprised by the PDPs performance on Jammu-Poonch seat which secured 168554 votes in the region. The party was represented by Yashpal Sharma on the seat.

Now the Lok Sabha elections are over and the state NC-Cong coalition has been dashed to ground in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh regions of the state, the political pundits are busy in assessing the assembly elections scheduled later this year. Most of the commentators see PDP which came into being in 1999 emerging as a great threat to the existence of NC, the oldest political party of Jammu and Kashmir.

The candidates, including top leaders like Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mehbooba Mufti and Muzaffar Hussain Baig were in the fray, in the longest ever five phase electoral exercise held in the state.

These were the first Lok Sabha elections when the option of ‘none of the above’ or NOTA was introduced on the EVMs following Supreme Court directions to ensure secrecy of voters who use this option. Before NOTA button was installed on EVMs, voters had to fill up Form 49 ‘O’ at the polling station which compromised their identity.

The Election was held in five phases across the state for 6 Lok Sabha constituencies. There were many high and low points during the election. Some incidents of violence also happened including killings of Sarpanchs, two civilians and a poll official.

Lok Sabha elections 2014 witnessed unexpected low turnout in the valley. “Had the turn out been normal, the winning margin of PDP candidates in the valley would have been even more,” Showakat Ahmad Parray, a political Science teacher who teaches at the college level told Kashmir Life.

While traditionally the Lok Sabha elections have been between two main regional parties, National Conference and the PDP, in the valley but it was BJP Vs Congress in the Jammu seats as the coalition partners were in a seat sharing agreement.

The political campaigning in this election saw many new things like usage of PR, social media besides other innovative things.

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