National Conference's win in Srinagar Parliamentary constituency is a setback to the ruling PDP as the opposition party has gained upper hand in five assembly segments out of eight in the city here. NC chief Farooq Abdullah yesterday won the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll, defeating the ruling PDP candidate, Nazir Khan, by a margin of 10,776 votes. The result showed that NC took lead in five assembly segments out of eight in Srinagar, thereby ginning an upper hand in the city which once was its bastion. While Abdullah polled 48,555 votes, Khan got 37,779 votes. The party had lost major support in 2014 assembly elections when it lost five seats in Srinagar to the PDP, which had no representation from the city before that. In 2014, PDP won from Amira Kadal, Batamaloo, Hazratbal, Sonwar and Zadibal assembly segments, restricting the National Conference to only three - Eidgah, Habba Kadal and Khanyar. The PDP's win in Srinagar had dealt a major blow to the NC which only won 15 seats across the state in the elections. However, the party seems to have reversed its fortunes in Srinagar as it maintained its lead in three assembly segments of Eidgah, Habba Kadal and Khanyar and also gained lead in Hazratbal and Zadibal which are represented by the PDP in the state legislature. NC candidate Abdullah secured 2237 votes in Hazratbal against PDP candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan's 2032 votes, while the party got 1750 votes in Zadibal against 1506 to PDP. In the three segments of Amira Kadal, Batamaloo and Sonwar, the NC lost by thin margin of 465, 243 and 32 votes respectively, indicating the party had not fared badly in these areas. The results of these eight assembly segments of Srinagar have encouraged the NC because of the drubbing it received in the general elections of 2014 and then the assembly polls as well. "We are encouraged by the fact that we have either completely narrowed the margin or won certain seats back in Srinagar. Though, we would have wanted a higher voter turnout in the by-poll, but it is what it is, an election win and we are thankful to the voters," NC's state spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu told PTI. Mattu said the party would now make efforts to consolidate its support and completely recapture its stronghold of Srinagar in the run-up to the general elections of 2019 and the assembly polls after that. "We will continue our efforts to consolidate and recapture areas which we have lost and which were our strongholds," he said. In total, the NC has won from nine assembly segments out of the total of 15 in the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency which is spread over three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal. In Ganderbal district, where the party won both the assembly seats, Ganderbal and Kangan, in 2014 assembly elections, the NC has maintained the lead by securing 4,555 and 10,024 votes against PDP's 4,204 and 4,215 votes respectively. In Budgam district, comprising five assembly segments, the party has won from two and lost from three. While the NC won from Shia-dominated Budgam assembly seat, currently represented by influential Shia leader Aga Syed Ruhullah, and party working president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah's constituency Beerwah, it lost from Chadoora and Chrar-i-Shareef (represented by the PDP) and Khansahib (represented by an independent candidate). The result of the by-poll indicates that the NC candidate got a major chunk of votes from Kangan and Budgam assembly segments where the party secured lead of 5,809 and 6,314 votes respectively. While in Kangan, the party was helped by the votes from Gujjar community, the support base of its MLA and Gujjar leader Mian Altaf Ahmad, the Shia votes helped the party's cause in Budgam. The NC said while the Parliamentary elections in 2019 and the assembly polls after that are the next challenge for it, the immediate challenge is the future of the electoral process in the state. "The next challenge in our efforts is the Parliamentary elections in 2019 and then the big finale in assembly elections.
But the immediate challenge is the future of the electoral process in the state because of the low voter turnout in the by-poll," he said. "The resentment against the PDP-BJP alliance is so serious that we have to consolidate the mainstream space in the state," Mattu added.
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