The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal sees victory for democracy

Copenhagen, Oct. 10: Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee has described the election results in Jammu and Kashmir as a clear victory for India’s democracy and a vote for the unity and integrity of India. He also promised full co-operation to whoever forms the government at Srinagar.

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir have given their verdict. And the winner clearly is India’s democracy,” Vajpayee said in a statement issued here after he learnt of the election results.

The election results have in essence vindicated India’s position on Kashmir and have demonstrated to the world that the elections were indeed free and fair. It is also pleasantly coincidental for India that the results have come out on a day when what India considers “a fake election” is being held in Pakistan.

Vajpayee said: “Our stand has been resoundingly vindicated both by people’s enthusiastic participation and by the outcome of the polls.” The Prime Minister said his government had fulfilled the pledge to hold free and fair elections.

Vajpayee extended his greetings to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, describing them as “brave and courageous”.

He recalled that both before and during the polls he had said that “irrespective of which candidate or party won, the vote would be for India’s unity, integrity and democracy, it would be a vote for Kashmiriyat, and it would be a vote against Pak-sponsored terrorism and Pakistan’s anti-India propaganda”.

Vajpayee gave an assurance that his government at the Centre “would work in close cooperation with the elected representatives in Srinagar to fulfil the aspirations of the people”.

Reacting to the biggest setback — National Conference President Omar Abdullah’s resounding defeat — an official remarked that he and his father, Farooq Abdullah, would have done well to accept the formula offered to them before the polls.

Under a compromise agreement which did not come about, Farooq would have been appointed Governor of a state and Omar Abdullah would have been elevated to Cabinet rank at the Centre provided the National Conference government had resigned and allowed the Assembly elections under Governor’s rule.

A diplomat summed up the poll result by saying that this was a double whammy — “India has defeated Pakistan both in hockey and in elections.”

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