National Conference regains bastions, picks up momentum

By bagging the Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla Lok Sabha constituencies, the National Conference has not only wrested back its bastion (Srinagar), it appears to have picked up a momentum in central, north and south Kashmir that could boost its chances in the assembly elections later this year.

Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah and former state cabinet minister Mohammad Akbar Lone won Srinagar and Baramulla with margins of over 70,000 and 30,000 votes, respectively, while Husnain Masoodi won Anantnag by about 7,000 votes. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the state’s remaining three Lok Sabha seats — Ladakh, Jammu and Udhampur.

Political leaders say that given the National Conference (NC) drew a blank in the 2014 general elections, this victory would give the party and its cadre a muchneeded fillip ahead of the state elections tentatively scheduled for November. In the 2014 assembly elections, the NC had won 15 assembly seats in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. But in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it has pocketed all 15 assembly segments of Srinagar constituency, eight of 15 in Baramulla and seven of 16 in Anantnag.

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According to NC provisional president Nasir Sogami, the results are bound to enthuse the party ranks. “We managed to take a lead in all 15 segments of Srinagar seat. The reason is the PDP [Peoples Democratic Party] not only neglected the development of the city, but other areas also,” he said, adding that the tie-up with the BJP had proved suicidal for PDP.

Tanvir Sadiq, advisor to former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, said this time NC cadre had realised that they should come out to vote. “In this election, our workers, especially the cadres, were really charged and wanted NC to come back. Our workers converted neutral votes in the party’s favour. We even managed to get leads in areas where we don’t have assembly members in the last elections.”

“We managed to convince the people that we need to send such MPs to Parliament who can talk about special status [Article 370]. And people realised that NC will represent and talk about special status and the aspirations of Kashmir in Parliament.”

Amid the enthusiasm, there is also nervousness among NC leaders that any delay in holding assembly polls or a total boycott could spoil the NC’s chances.

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First Published:
May 26, 2019 07:48 IST

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