Srinagar- The ruling National Conference today wrested the prestigious Srinagar lok sabha seat as the party nominee Omar Abdullah defeated his nearest Congress rival, Agha Syed Mehdi by a convincing margin of 70,839 votes.
All other candidates, including Abdul Rashid Kabli, who fought elections on a BJP ticket, forfeited their deposits. In all 7 candidates were in the fray, including that of Bahujan Samaj Party.
The formal announcement of Omar's victory was made by the returning officer Ashok Parmar, around noon today, in the lobby of convention complex and in presence of several National Conference ministers and legislators besides some party activists. However even before the official announcement was made, Omar was garlanded by his supporters and brought to the make shift podium in a small procession. His victory was greeted by the small crowd inside with clapping of hands. None of the opposition candidates was present on the occasion and all had left the counting hall much before the final round of counting was over.
Votes of four ballot boxes, from Khanyar assembly segment were not counted following the directions of the election commission in view of discrepancy between the presiding officers' diary and the actual votes found in the boxes.
The seat was won in last lok sabha election by G M Mir Magami of the Congress defeating his nearest Janata Dal rival, Farooq Andrabi. The National Conference, it may be, mentioned, did not take part in the 1996 lok sabha elections.
Reacting to election results Agha Mehdi said "it is a naked fraud”. Our valid objections regarding tampering of ballot boxes by the ruling National Conference leaders were overruled.
Former union home minister Mufti Mohammad Syed, who himself is contesting from Anantnag lok sabha constituency, attributed the defeat of his party candidates in Srinagar and Jammu to the “failure of proper party structure in the state.”
(Kashmir Observer, 11 March, 1998)
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