Congress Does Well In J&K
13 May 2004
Srinagar: Of the six parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress combine has bagged four seats with the ruling People's Democratic Party president, Mehbooba Mufti, registering her victory from the Anantnag constituency. The National Conference president, Omar Abdullah, won the Srinagar seat for the third consecutive term and said his win would give a new life to the party. In a straight contest, Mr. Abdullah defeated the PDP's Ghulam Nabi Lone with a margin of 2,27,00 votes while Ms. Mehbooba has, for the first time, been elected to Parliament from Anantnag with a huge margin of 3,89,00 votes. She defeated NC's Mehboob Beig while the Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, managed around 12,000 votes. The NC candidate from Baramulla, Abdur Rasheed Shaheen, retained his seat defeating the PDP's Nizamuddin Bhat by a margin of 9,900 votes. In Baramulla, the PDP and the Congress were locked in a friendly contest which helped the NC get through. The NC had won all the three seats from Kashmir in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. There was jubilation at the NC headquarters as the party has staged a comeback after losing in the 2002 Assembly elections.Jammu division too sprang a surprise with both seats going to the Congress. The Minister for Roads and Buildings, Madan Lal Sharma, won the Jammu seat defeating his nearest rival, Nirmal Singh, of the Bharatiya Janata Party by a margin of 17,558 votes. The Congress wrested the Udhampur seat from the BJP and its candidate, Chowdary Lal Singh, defeated the Union Minister of State for Defence, Chaman Lal Gupta, by a margin of nearly 40,000 votes. Mr. Gupta has represented the seat for three consecutive terms. In the case of the Ladakh seat, the Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) candidate, Thpstan Chhewang, is set to win as he was leading by 25,000 votes over his nearest NC rival, Hassan Khan. However, the material from three polling stations with 200 votes was awaited, and the formal results will be declared late. The LUTF candidate was supported by the Congress. After being declared elected from Srinagar seat, the NC president, Omar Abdullah, said that his party would sit in the Opposition in Parliament and continue to do the same in the Assembly. He said that 'this victory will infuse new spirit in the party cadre and we will start afresh from here.' We have not lost: Mehbooba The PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, said the coalition government has won and 'it is no debacle for us.' The PDP would ally with the Congress at the Centre. 'See we have got a lot of votes from the area where we had no presence and this is an achievement for us,' she said.