In an election first, polling in the Anantnag constituency of Jammu and Kashmir was held in three phases. In a nail-biting contest, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti was pitted against NC candidate Justice Hasnain Masoodi, a former HC judge. The Congress, which is in a ‘friendly contest’ with the NC had fielded its state chief GA Mir. BJP, not exactly a major player in Anantnag, had fielded Sofi Youssaf.
As the counting gets over, NC candidate Justice Hasnain Masoodi wins from Anantnag constituency. At the time of publishing, Hasnain Masoodi was leading by 39898 votes.
Taking to Twitter, she accepted her defeat against the NC candidate and said:
"I feel lucky that I have always had the love of my people. They have the right to express resentment against my failures, and I accept their judgment with full remorse. Congratulations to the successful candidates of the national conference. I thank the party workers and colleagues."
The polls in Anantnag were pegged as being a referendum on the Chief Ministership of Mehbooba Mufti which ended abruptly when the BJP pulled its support to her PDP. The NC candidate Justice Masoodi is known for ruling in 2015 that Article 370 of the Constitution cannot be revoked. Congress state chief state chief Mir on the other hand had lost the Dooru assembly constituency to Mehbooba's uncle Farooq Andrabi in 2014.
Historically, Anantnag constituency has swung between National Conference and Congress. NC has won the seat five times in the past and Congress four times. PDP has won the seat twice, both when Mehbooba Mufti had emerged victorious. Her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed won on a Congress ticket from Anantnag in 1998. The most number of wins from this Lok Sabha constituency were those of Congress' Mohd Shafi Qureshi who registered three wins between 1967-77.
Mehbooba Mufti’s campaign in the Lok Sabha elections has revolved around targeting the Modi government and building consensus against BJP’s manifesto promise to revoke Article 35-A.
As the counting was underway, she also congratulated Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.