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NC, Congress 2-2 in J&K
May 13, 2004 14:42 IST
Last Updated: May 13, 2004 17:53 IST
NCThe National Conference and the Congress shared two seats each in Jammu and Kashmir, while the People's Democratic Party and an independent candidate had to be content with one each.
NC president Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti won comfortably from their respective constituencies on Thursday. The Congress, the PDP's partner in the state government, registered victories in Jammu and Udhampur, while the NC lost the Ladakh seat to an independent.
Abdullah retained the Srinagar parliamentary constituency for the third consecutive time. He defeated his nearest PDP rival Ghulam Nabi Lone by nearly 20,000 votes. Abdullah was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 from Srinagar and defended it in 1999.
"Today's results from Kashmir valley should silence the critics of the National Conference, who for the past 18 months had written off the party," Abdullah said after his victory.
His party lost the Anantnag constituency, which it had won in 1999, to Mehbooba Mufti. She defeated the NC's Mehboob Beg by nearly 38,000 votes.
Asked if the PDP government should quit, Abdullah said, "It is a decision to be taken by the Congress and PDP. It is a decision to be taken by the conscience of the chief minister [Mufti Mohammed Sayeed], but I do not think he will resign as he is married to power."
On the possibility of Mehbooba Mufti joining the next government at the Centre in case it is a Congress-led coalition, he said, "She might join the Congress-led government as PDP and Congress are already coalition partners in the state."
Abdullah alleged that the PDP had contested the elections on "negative politics". "They made personal attacks against me and my family. This should serve as a lesson to them."
Commenting on the NC's performance -- in 1999, the party had won five out of the six Lok Sabha seats -- he said, "We cannot look at this election in the context of 1999 polls. We have to consider the defeat of 2002 assembly polls in the state and by that yardstick it is an improvement."
In Ladakh, independent candidate Thupstan Chhewang defeated the NC's Hassan Khan by a margin of over 26,000 votes. The Ladakh Union Territory Front supported Chhewang, chairman of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council.
In Baramullah, NC candidate Abdul Rashid Shaheen defeated the PDP's Nizamuddin Bhat by nearly 10,000 votes. Shaheen, who won the seat in the 1999 election, has captured it for the second consecutive time.
In Jammu constituency, Madan Lal Sharma (Congress) defeated his nearest rival Nirmal Singh (BJP) by 17,568 votes. In Udhampur, Choudhary Lal Singh (Congress) defeated his nearest rival Chaman Lal Gupta (BJP). The BJP had won Udhampur in 1999.