Engineer Rashid’s Lok Sabha win set alarm bells ringing for Kashmir’s bigwigs - Hindustan Times
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Engineer Rashid’s Lok Sabha win set alarm bells ringing for Kashmir’s bigwigs

ByMir Ehsan, Srinagar
Jun 07, 2024 02:17 PM IST

Leaders from Engineer Rashid’s Awami Ittehad Party have expressed interest in contesting the impending Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections

Jailed former legislator Engineer Abdul Rashid springing a surprise win in the Lok Sabha polls from Baramulla has sent the alarming bells ringing within the region’s traditionally dominant political parties — especially the National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party, the People’s Conference and the Apni Party.

Baramulla’ MP-elect Engineer Rashid (HT File)
Baramulla’ MP-elect Engineer Rashid (HT File)

Of the 18 assembly segments falling under Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, Rashid led in 14 assembly constituencies in four districts at certain places leading by more than 20,000 votes from his rival.

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Rashid is already heading a political party, the Awami Ittehad Party, and leaders running his campaign had dropped hints that they will be contesting the impending assembly polls, which could be held before September.

In the Kupwara district comprising seven seats Tanghdar, Tregham, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara and Langate, Rashid took lead from six assembly segments while People’s Conference chairperson Sajjad Lone took the lead in Handwara. National Conference vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah could not manage any leads in the Kupwara district.

Rashid pulled highest votes on his home turf of Langate, which he has represented twice in the assembly. He raced to a lead of over 20,000 votes over his nearest candidate Sajjad Lone.

In Baramulla district comprising 7 assembly segments, Rashid took the lead on his rivals in Rafiabad, Baramulla, Uri, Sangrama, Gulmarg, Sopore while Omar Abdullah managed to take a slender lead in Pattan constituency.

In the Bandipora district, Rashid led in Bandipora and Sonwari, while Abdullah took the lead in Gurez. Of the two seats in Budgam, Omar was ahead in Budgam while Rashid had a comfortable lead in Beerwah.

In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when Engineer Rashid took over 1 lakh votes, he had taken a lead in half a dozen assembly segments falling under the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat.

“The results are surprising and the established parties should be worried. If these results are repeated then Rashid’s party will emerge as a formidable force in Kashmir. From today only the political parties should start their home work otherwise they will have to face humiliation,” advocate Mudasir Naqshbandi who has a close eye on politics of north Kashmir, said.

Senior journalist and political analyst Maqsood Ahmad Rashid was able to pull in more votes due to the anger among people post the abrogation of Article 370 and his arrest. “In the assembly elections, local candidates and issues matter so results will be different that time,” he added.

Echoing the sentiment, a senior political leader said, “I don’t think these results will be repeated but you never predict things about Kashmir. The hope in the assembly elections is that all political parties get a level playing field during campaigning.”

Besides NC, PDP and PC, the Apni Party are also eyeing votes in Baramulla after several former ministers and legislators joined the party post abrogation of Article 370.

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