SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday emerged victorious in her first electoral battle after the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed by comfortably winning the Anantnag bypoll and defeating her nearest rival of Congress by over 12000 votes.
57-year-old Mehbooba polled 17,701 votes while Congress party’s Hilal Ahmad Shah secured 5600 and National Conference’s Iftikhar Misgar got 2811 votes.
Of the total electorate of 84067 electors including 4229 migrant voters, a total of 28446 had cast their votes during polling on June 22.
The Anantnag seat had fallen vacant after the death of Mehbooba’s father and former CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 this year. After his death, Mehbooba took over as first woman Chief Minister of the State on April 4 this year. It had become mandatory for her to become member of J&K legislature within six months.
Mehbooba is also a sitting MP from South Kashmir and has not resigned yet from the parliament.
The victory margin of Mehbooba from the seat was double than that of her father, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2014 Assembly elections.
Mufti Sayeed had won the Anantnag seat by 6,000 votes in 2014 elections.
Today’s win is Mehbooba’s fourth win in the Assembly elections from south Kashmir, the stronghold of PDP, founded by her and her father in 1999.
Mehbooba had won her first Assembly election in 1996. She also won 2002 and 2008 Assembly elections and did not contest 2014 Assembly elections.
Her only electoral defeat has come in parliamentary elections at the hands of her rival Omar Abdullah.
“It is an honour and a privilege to be elected from a seat, which was represented by my father. I am heartened that voters of Anantnag have put their trust in me to continue the work on his behalf,” Mehbooba said after her victory.
She said her priority is the people and not the power. “I would continue to work for my people to end their miseries”.
The defeated candidate of Congress Hilal Ahmad Shah and NC’s Iftikhar Hussain Misger termed the election result as repeat of 1987 rigging.
“I and my counting agents spotted an unsealed EVM, which according to norms should have been left untouched till Election Commission took acall on it,” Congress party’s Hilal Shah told reporters.
A Congress spokesman in the evening said it was shocking that EVMs were found without proper seal forcing Congress Candidate and other candidates to bycott the counting.
“Despite the protests held by the Congress and other candidates, the counting was not stopped and election result was declared in favour Chief Minister,” he said.
He said Congress believed that election was a stage managed drama enacted to ensure victory of Chief Minister.
“Both state and Central government manipulated the election to ensure the victory of Mehbooba,” added Congress spokesman.