Srinagar: Opposition National Conference (NC) President and three-time Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, who won the closely-watched by-poll for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat on Saturday demanded the imposition of Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir, alleging that the PDP-BJP government has “totally failed” on all fronts particularly law and order.
Soon after being declared the winner, 79-year-old Abdullah said that in view of the deteriorating law and order situation and growing discontent among the people against the ruling dispensation he appeals President Pranab Mukherjee to impose Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir immediately. He however, also said that he wanted to thank the people “who despite all odds and hardships voted for me”.
He asserted, “The people of my constituency have clearly rejected People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and shown contempt to its policies and actions. The State government in the State has totally and miserably failed to deliver. It failed to provide conducive atmosphere for the by-polls. People are suffering because of its flawed policies and actions”.
Replying questions, he said that he would work towards securing Article 370 of the Constitution which guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian union in its original form and seek meaningful and result-oriented talks involving all stakeholders towards finding an amicable and lasting solution to the Kashmir problem.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered enormously and can’t afford more miseries, bloodshed and mayhem. The time has come to address the issue of Kashmir politically to find a solution which should be acceptable to one and all,” he said.
Abdullah was declared winner by a margin of 10,776 votes over his nearest rival and ruling PDP nominee Nazir Ahmad Khan. He polled 48,555 votes as against 37,779 bagged by Khan. Out of the total 89,883 votes polled, 88,951 were found valid while 932 voters used the NOTA option.
The by-poll was marred by widespread violence and protests by pro-freedom crowds, leaving eight persons dead and dozens wounded in security forces’ firing and other actions. Over 100 security forces personnel were also injured in stone-pelting and mob violence.
Also only a little over 7 per cent from among over 1.2 million registered voters participated in the by-poll. While the voting on April 9 witnessed a record low turnout in five decades of 7.14 percent, it was just 2.02 percent when re-polling was held at 38 polling stations which had witnessed worst incidents of violence earlier. This was the lowest voter turnout in the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
Abdullah admitted that this was the “worst election” in history as it witnessed unprecedented bloodshed. “No doubt I have won but we have lost precious lives, that’s why we are not happy with this win. Yet I dedicate my victory to the people who rejected the divisive politics of PDP-BJP combine,” he said.
The by-polls was necessitated by the resignation of sitting MP of ruling PDP Tariq Hameed Karra who resigned from both the party and Parliament in protest against its forging an alliance with ideologically-divergent BJP to form coalition government in the State.
He has since joined the Congress which had supported Abdullah’s candidature in lieu of its backing the J&K PCC chief and Congress candidate for Anantnag by-poll Ghulam Ahmed Mir. The Anantnag by-poll which was to be held on April 12 was, however, deferred to May 25 by the Election Commission in view of the disturbances witnessed during the voting in Srinagar constituency.