J&K’s outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday presided over the National Conference’s worst show in assembly polls. Omar himself, while winning narrowly from the Beerwah segment, tasted defeat from his native seat Sonawar.
Omar, who was closely following the results from his official residence in Sonawar, congratulated PDP candidate Ashraf Mir as soon as he learnt of his defeat. “Congratulations to Ashraf Mir for his victory in Sonwar. I wish him & the people all good luck for the next 6 years. He’s now my local MLA,’’ Omar tweeted minutes before the results were announced.
While Mir bagged 14,283 votes, Omar finished with 9,500 votes. Initially, Omar was leading from the constituency. However, when EVMs of Mir’s native place Athwajan on city outskirts were unsealed, Omar started trailing and lost by 4,783 votes in the end.
In the 2008 assembly polls, Omar had won from his family bastion Ganderbal. This year, he left the segment for Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar who had quit Congress to join the NC. Ishfaq managed to win the seat by a narrow margin.
Losing Sonawar, which falls in Srinagar district, is a big blow for the NC. In the 2008 polls, NC president Farooq Abdullah won the seat by a slim margin. Farooq, who also won from Hazratbal, had left both the seats soon after Omar formed the government. NC had retained the Ganderbal seat in by-elections.
In Beerwah, Omar had been leading in the earlier rounds of counting. However, Congress rival Nazir Ahmad Khan overtook the chief minister in the later rounds. In the last two rounds, Omar managed to bounce back and win the seat by 902 votes, triggering off celebration from NC supporters.
Omar’s counting agent in the area Shabir Ahmad said: “We have given votes to Omar to bring development in the region that is one of the backward parts of the state. We hope he will not let us down”.
NC’s show in the Srinagar district, considered the party’s stronghold, has been dismal. In 2008, the party won all the eight seats in the district. This time, NC has been able to retain only three of them.
Apart from Srinagar, NC lost ground in Baramulla where it managed to win only one seat, Uri, which it wrested from the Congress. NC’s two sitting legislators from Baramulla district, Javid Dar (Rafiabad) and Mohammad Ashraf Dar (Sopore) lost this time. In Kupwara, the party faced a rout with all three sitting legislators suffering defeat. NC managed to retain both its seats in Bandipore as sitting legislators Akbar Lone won from Sonawari and Nazir Gurezi from Gurez.
In the Budgam district, the NC won Beerwah and Budgam seats but lost Char-e-Sharief to the PDP. NC retained nominees won from both Kangan and Ganderbal segments in Ganderbal district. In South Kashmir, the NC won two seats, improving its tally by one. The party wrested Pahalgam and Homeshalibough seats from the PDP. However, Noorabad, where the NC had won in 2008, went to the PDP this time.