Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday won the Anantnag by-polls by more than 12,000 votes, driving home the point that her popularity remains unaffected even as the Peoples Democratic Party’s allies with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. The Peoples Democratic Party President polled nearly 17,000 votes while her nearest rival Congress’ Hilal Shah got 5,589 votes.
Mufti, currently an MP from Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, faced a three-corner contest in the by-poll with Hilal Shah of the Congress and Iftikar Misger of the National Conference.
Earlier in the day, the counting was stopped immediately after the first round results were announced because of the Congress’ protests.
“An Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was not properly sealed and should not be counted at all,” alleged Shah, as he and his supporters left the counting hall in protest. “When we raised our voice the district magistrate threatened to put us behind the bars,” said the Congress candidate as he stormed out of the centre.
However, after 15 minutes the counting was restarted.
The NC also alleged EVM tampering. “A lot of EVMs in Anantnag (were) without mandatory seals/locks. Electoral staff says since teachers were incharge, their inexperience is the reason!” alleged NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu, who later congratulated Mufti on her victory.
However, district magistrate Syed Abid Rasheed Shah refuted the allegations of tampering of EVMs.
Elections were necessitated in Anantnag constituency due to the death of Mehbooba Mufti’s father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 this year.
The total number of registered voters in the Anantnag assembly segment is 84,067 — 42,840 males and 41,227 females, an official spokesperson said, adding that there were 102 polling stations in the constituency.