Anantnag, June 25 (IANS): Making mincemeat of her electoral rivals, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday won the Anantnag Assembly by-poll by a margin of over 12,000 votes -- in what is seen as a first popularity test of the over year-old PDP-BJP government in the state.
Mehbooba Mufti polled 17,701 votes while her closest rival Hilal Ahmad Shah of the Congress managed just 5,616 of the over 28,500 polled on June 22, an official of the election commission told IANS here.
National Conference's Iftikhar Hussain Misghar came a distant third with a little over 2,800 votes in the low turnout polling -- 34 per cent -- amid a boycott call by Kashmiri separatists and militants.
In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Mehbooba Mufti on her electoral victory. Modi termed it a "phenomenal victory".
The decisive victory margin for the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir is seen as a public endorsement of her Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) decision to continue its alliance with the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Her rivals in the National Conference and the Congress had made Mehbooba Mufti's decision to continue the alliance with BJP a hallmark of their electoral campaign in Anantnag.
The by-election was necessitated because of the death of her father, then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The late Chief Minister represented the seat in the Assembly that has an effective strength of 87.