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Upsets in J&K: Omar Abdullah, Mehboba Mufti taste defeat in LS polls

People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, has also fallen by the wayside in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, where the National Conference (NC) candidate has taken a decisive lead.

Upsets in J&K: Omar Abdullah, Mehboba Mufti taste defeat in LS polls
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National Conference leader and party candidate from Baramulla constituency Omar Abdullah addresses a public meeting (PTI)

SRINAGAR: In one of the biggest electoral upsets in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, former MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias Engineer Rashid has taken an unassailable lead over former chief minister Omar Abdullah from the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency.

Another former chief minister, People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, has also fallen by the wayside in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, where the National Conference (NC) candidate has taken a decisive lead.

Rashid, who is currently lodged in Delhi's Tihar jail in a case registered under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), has turned a giant slayer in the Lok sabha polls in the Union Territory as his opponents included People's Conference president Sajad Gani Lone, who was trailing at the third place behind Abdullah.

The 56-year-old former MLA from Kupwara district was arrested in 2019 and charged under the UAPA by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the first mainstream politician to be booked under the anti-terror law.

Rashid was first elected to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly from the Langate segment in 2008 and was re-elected in 2014.

According to the Election Commission's (EC) data for the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, with only 1.5 lakh votes left to be counted, Rashid, an Independent candidate, had taken a lead of more than 1.84 lakh votes over Abdullah, who was quick to concede defeat.

"I think it's time to accept the inevitable. Congratulations to Engineer Rashid for his victory in North Kashmir," the NC vice-president said in a post on X at 1:37 pm.

He said the voters have spoken and in a democracy, that is all that matters.

"I don't believe his victory will hasten his release from prison nor will the people of North Kashmir get the representation they have a right to but the voters have spoken and in a democracy that's all that matters," Abdullah said.

Rashid's son, Abrar, who campaigned extensively for his father, thanked people for their "love and support".

"I am thankful to the people who not only supported our campaign but showered their love and converted it into votes as well. Winning or losing does not matter much to us. What matters for me is the love we got from the people," he told reporters.

Mufti, another key player in Jammu and Kashmir's politics, also had to bite the dust at the hustings as Gujjar leader and NC candidate Mian Altaf Ahmad took an unassailable lead of more than 2.78 lakh votes from the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat with just a few thousand votes to be counted.

"Respecting the verdict of the people I thank my PDP workers and leaders for their hard work and support despite all the odds. My deepest gratitude to the people who voted for me. Winning and losing is part of the game and won't deter us from our path," Mufti posted on X at 1:58 pm.

NC leader Aga Roohullah Mehdi has taken an unassailable lead of 1.62 lakh votes over PDP's Waheed Para from the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, with less than one lakh votes left to be counted.

PTI
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