October 1999 News


Congress bid to dislodge NC boomeranged

8 October 1999
The Hindustan Times
By Arun Joshi

SRINAGAR: The National Conference has done it again. The party has won four out of six parliamentary seats in Jammu and Kashmir - winning the three seats in Kashmir Valley and one in Ladakh.

The Bhartiya Janata Party retained the remaining two seats of Jammu.

Both its candidates from Udhampur and Jammu won with huge margins. National Conference and BJP badly humbled their rivals in their strong bastions on the two sides of Pir Panjal and worst hit were Congress and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of former Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

The PDP and Congress who were hoping to dislodge the National Conference could not win even a seat.

PDP could not retain retain even Anantnag seat from where Mufti had won last year.

These results have firmly established the political supremacy of National Conference in Kashmir even as militancy was showing signs of its revival, say political analysts.

The party has not only won Srinagar, Baramulla and Ladakh but also regained Anantnag which it had lost to its arch political opponent Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 1998.

Political observers are quick to say that the NC victory is because of the charisma of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and a rejection of its rivals - Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party.

The PDP could not win even a single seat despite Sayeed's talk of "massive disillusionment of the people with the (NC) Government."

Congress has suffered a humiliating defeat in all the five constituencies it contested and the sixth where it supported an independent.

The party which even in the worst of times had won at least one seat from the state is humbled in its strongest bastions in Jammu-Poonch, Doda-Udhampur in Jammu region and Leh in Ladakh region.

For the first time in parliamentary elections history of the state, the Congress will be without even a single seat in the Lok Sabha from Jammu and Kashmir.

NC nominee, Ali Mohammad Naik's victory in Anantnag was described as the sweetest of gains for the party. It has not forgotten its defeat in the parliamentary elections last year.

No less sweet was the victory in Baramulla where it had to fight former Union Minister Saif-ud-Din Soz.

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