Legacy Politics Faces Challenges in J&K After Defeat of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti

Legacy Politics Faces Challenges in J&K After Defeat of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti

Verdict against Article 370 abrogation

The people have spoken democratically against the decisions of Aug 5, 2019. It is now my responsibility to take your voice to the Parliament and to the people of the rest of India. Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi

The defeat of NC vice-president Omar Abdullah from Baramulla and the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti from Anantnag-Rajouri suggests a significant shift in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir. Although the BJP had aimed to challenge the legacy of both Abdullah and Mufti families, it was the unique circumstances in Kashmir that ultimately led to their defeat.

Mian Altaf, who defeated Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag.

Mehbooba faced a tough challenge from NC’s Mian Altaf in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency. Despite her vigorous campaign, which was prolonged due to postponed polls, she lacked the party infrastructure enjoyed by the NC. Altaf, who is also a Gujjar spiritual leader, got a large number of votes from the Gujjar community in Rajouri and Poonch and in Valley’s votes of NC, Congress and CPM were transferred to him in three districts (as he was the joint INDIA bloc candidate).

Initially, Mehbooba had desired to be a joint candidate for the INDIA alliance. However, her party was compelled to contest from all three constituencies of Kashmir after the NC refused to concede any seat to the PDP from the INDIA alliance quota in the Valley. Omar Abdullah, although well-equipped with party infrastructure, encountered a formidable wave of sentimental support for Engineer Rashid’s 23-year-old son Abrar Rashid, who was campaigning for his jailed father.

With his defeat, Omar has to see how he faces this new challenge that has emerged in Kashmir from Engineer Rashid’s politics and Mehbooba Mufti has to rethink her comeback strategies.

Mehbooba conceded defeat on Tuesday, saying: “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. Congratulations to Mian sahab for his victory.”

Meanwhile, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, representing the NC, clinched the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat with an impressive 3,56,866 votes, maintaining a commanding margin of 1,88,416 votes over his opponent, Waheed Para of the PDP, who secured 1,68,450 votes and settled for the second spot.

However, both candidates upheld dignity in both victory and defeat, demonstrating the same level of respect they maintained throughout the lengthy campaign, refraining from engaging in personal attacks. Mehdi described his win against the verdict of August 5, 2019, the day Article 370 was abrogated and J&K state was bifurcated into two Union Territories.

“A big thank you to the people of Srinagar, Pulwama, Gandarbal, Shopian and Budgam for this mandate and faith in me. I am humbled and am aware of the responsibility that this mandate brings with it. You have spoken democratically and spoken against the decisions of Aug 5, 2019. From here on, it is my responsibility to take your voice to the Parliament and to the people of the rest of India. Rest assured, I will represent your sentiments and struggle for the return of our dignity and rights with complete sincerity,” Mehdi said.

PDP candidate Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra said after years of silence, Kashmiris had courageously expressed themselves through their votes for the first time, aiming to break the cycle of silence and reclaim their voice. He extended his congratulations to Ruhullah, Engineer Rashid and Mian Altaf.

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