PDP crushes National Conference in Kashmir
1 March 2003
The Hindustan Times
Faisal Ahmed (Indo-Asian News Service)
Faisal Ahmed (Indo-Asian News Service)Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) Saturday swept the Pampore assembly by-election, inflicting a crushing defeat on the National Conference party. PDP's Zahoor Ahmed Mir polled a whopping 14,317 votes compared to the measly 1,435 of Mushtaq Ahmad Kuchai of the National Conference in the by-election held three days ago. Kuchai as well as all seven independents in the fray forfeited their security deposits. With this, the PDP tally has again risen to its previous strength of 16 members in the 87-member state assembly. The by-election was ordered following the assassination of PDP legislator Abdul Aziz Mir on December 6. The PDP fielded the son of the slain man. As expected, despite a bitter attack on the PDP by National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, particularly on the issue of demolition of houses in the area, the sympathy wave for the dead Mir proved handy for the ruling party. Kuchai's defeat is a serious blow to the National Conference, which has been desperately trying to re-establish its supremacy in a state where it was ousted from power in October. Independent candidates did not cut much ice in Pampore, with just one of them polling close to 1,000 votes.