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Azad romps home with record margin

Shujaat Bukhari

In other byelections, PDP, NC and an Independent win one seat each


Chief Minister defeats BJP rival by 58,015 votes Contests election from home State for first time

BARAMULLA: In a record in the history of Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday defeated his nearest Bharatiya Janata Party rival in the Bhaderwah byelection by a margin of 58,015 votes.

In the byelections for three other seats in north Kashmir, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), an ally of the ruling Congress, won Rafiabad but lost Pattan to the National Conference (NC) and Sangrama to an Independent.

In Bhaderwah, Mr. Azad of the Congress, who contested an election for the time from his home State, got 62,072 out of the 66,129 votes polled. His lone rival, Dhantar Singh got 4,057 votes and forfeited his deposit.

Mr. Azad, who took over as Chief Minister on November 2 last, had to become a member of either House of the legislature within six months. His cousin and Congress leader Mohammad Sharief Niaz, resigned the seat for Mr. Azad.

In Pattan, Mustafa Kamal of the NC defeated the PDP's Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari by a margin of 2,771 votes. Mr. Kamal is the younger brother of the former Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah.

Dillawar Mir of the PDP retained his Rafiabad seat, defeating the NC's Mohammad Maqbool Mir by 8,659 votes.

Mr. Dillawar Mir and Mr. Ansari had resigned the Rafiabad and Pattan seats as NC members and joined the PDP to contest the elections afresh.

PDP loses Sangrama

Independent Shuaib Lone wrested Sangrama from the PDP, defeating its Javed Baig by a margin of 6,318 votes. Mr. Javed Baig is a nephew of Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig. Mr. Lone, son of the slain PDP leader and former Minister, Ghulam Nabi Lone, was backed by the party rebel and former Minister, G.H. Mir. The NC did not field any candidate against him.

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