Friday, October 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Voters reject NC; Omar humbled
Split mandate: NC gets 28 seats, Cong — 20, PDP — 16
Tribune News Service

Final party position

Total seats   87

Results declared 





















Srinagar, October 10
After 27 years, the National Conference was voted out of power in Jammu and Kashmir with a split mandate resulting in a hung Assembly and giving the Congress-PDP the chance of forming a coalition government.

The ruling party lost the prestigious seat of Ganderbal, known for electing Chief Ministers since 1977, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Qazi Mohammad Afzal.

The Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Omar Abdullah, who took over as President of the National Conference only three months back, is the first of the Sheikh dynasty to lose the prestigious seat of Ganderbal. Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s younger brother and Industries Minister, Dr Mustafa Kamaal, who represented the Gulmarg constituency in Baramula district also lost to his nearest rival of the Peoples Democratic Party of the former Union Home Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

The latest poll results declared here this evening showed that the National Conference had bagged 28 seats in the Legislative Assembly against 60 in the 87-member House in the 1996 elections. This was followed by the Congress getting 20 seats, the PDP 16 seats, Independents 15 seats, the Panthers Party four seats, the CPM two seats, the BJP and the BSP one seat each.

The Lolab constituency of Kupwara district has gone to the National Conference where Qaisar Jamshed Lone, nephew of a former minister, has been elected. Elections were countermanded in this constituency in the first phase following the death of National Conference candidate and former Law Minister Mushtaq Ahmad Lone during electioneering on September 11.

Prominent losers of the ruling party include senior NC leader and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Abdul Ahad Vakil, and ministers Mohammad Shafi, Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, Ajatshatru Singh, Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad Shah, Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, Bashir Ahmad Nengroo, Ms Sakina Itto, SS Salathia, Harbans Singh. The winners include the ministers, Mian Altaf ahmad and Ali Mohammad Sagar. The PDP candidates who emerged victorious included Ms Mehbooba Mufti from Pahalgam and Muzaffar Hussain Beigh from the Baramula constituency.

The counting of votes was held for 85 constituencies today while results of two members of Leh and Nobra in Leh district of the Ladakh region were declared elected unopposed.

The National Conference, which got 39 of the 46 seats in Kashmir valley in the 1996 elections, has got 28 seats.

The Amirakadal constituency has been bagged by Mohammad Shafi Bhat of the Congress, after he had resigned from the National Conference following denial of mandate.

Conceding the party’s defeat, National Conference President, Omar Abdullah said here that there could be many reasons for the poor performance of the party in these elections. He pointed out that its closer ties with the NDA government, of which it is an ally, could be one of the main reasons. He said that his party, being the single largest party in the Assembly would not stake its first claim to form the government and thus paved the way for the alliance of the opposition parties like the Congress, the PDP and the independents to stake claim for the formation of the government. Mr Omar Abdullah said despite threats from militants at the behest of their mentors across the border, people participated in the elections fearlessly.

He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir had given their verdict. He assured the new government, whosoever it may be, of its fullest cooperation.

The counting of votes was held at 16 centres, which included 13 district headquarters and three additional counting centres in the hilly Doda district of the Jammu region. The counting of votes in the 10 Assembly segments of Srinagar district was held at the highly guarded SKICC overlooking the Dal Lake here. 


Omar to quit as minister

PDP candidate Qazi Mohammad Afzal (right) after being declared elected from Ganderbal constituency defeating National Conference President Omar Abdullah
PDP candidate Qazi Mohammad Afzal (right) after being declared elected from Ganderbal constituency defeating National Conference President Omar Abdullah in Srinagar on Thursday. 
— Tribune photo Amin War

Srinagar, October 10
National Conference (NC) president and Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah said today that he would resign from the Vajpayee government.

“I will resign from the NDA ministry after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee returns from abroad”, Mr Omar Abdullah, who lost to PDP candidate Qazi Mohammad Afzal from the Ganderbal seat, said.

To a question about the continuance of the NC in the NDA, he said: “We will not be part of the government any more but whether to remain in the alliance is still an open question.”

There will be self-introspection and we will try to figure out where things went wrong, he said. Omar said he had accepted the defeat gracefully and would start afresh.

Asked about the reasons for the party’s humiliating defeat, he said “lot of this has to be answered by the MLAs and senior leaders of the party who have been in power for the past six years.”

He said the unavailability of the MLAs and ministers to the people had cost the party dearly. Congratulating Afzal on his victory from Ganderbal, the 32-year-old NC president said he would continue working for the people of the state.

The trends clearly showed that people’s verdict was against the NC, Omar said, adding that the defeat was an opportunity for the party to have a relook at its policies and strengthen itself at the grassroot level.

He said some party candidates had thought that they could not be defeated. “This is democracy where people can pull one down for failing to deliver the goods”, Omar, flanked by his wife and friends, said, adding that he would be calling an urgent session of the party to discuss the future strategy.

The NC president said his party would not stake claim to form a government even if it emerged as the single-largest party. “Certainly”, he said when asked whether the ruling NC had lost the mandate of the people in the elections.

Predicting that the Congress-PDP coalition would not last long, he said already a quarrel had started between the two parties on the candidate for Chief Minister’s post.

Dismissing a suggestion that the NC had lost the elections because of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, he said the reasons for the drubbing needed to be gone into and it would be difficult to say at this moment that the people were unhappy with the NC and wanted to punish it. PTI

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