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Man who defeated Omar Abdullah is a first-generation politician

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Man who defeated Omar Abdullah is a first-generation politician
PDP candidate Mohammad Ashraf Mir celebrates his win over chief minister Omar Abdullah
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A long alley from the gate to lawn was filled with women singing wanwun (Kashmiri folklore sung mostly during marriages). A stream of men waving green PDP flags was jostling to garland Mohammad Ashraf Mir who stood quiet in the middle of his lawn to welcome the guests personally.

An MBA from Bangalore University, 44-year-old Mir became the man of the match on Tuesday when he defeated Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is also the working president of National Conference, in his own backyard.

"It is the victory of my people. All credit goes to my people who worked hard for my success. I give it to my supporters who stood by me and with the result I uprooted Omar Abdullah from this constituency," Mir told dna.

Mir landed in the wonderland of politics in 2009 when he contested against National Conference leader Mohammad Yasin Shah in the byelection from Sonawar constituency. The seat was vacated by Omar's father Farooq Abdullah after he was elected to Rajya Sabha.

"I had won the seat at that time but then I was shown the migrant voters. They first announced my victory and later said I have lost (because of migrant voters). I should thank Allah because I learned from that experience and started from the ground level," he said.

Father of son and a daughter, Mir did his schooling from Srinagar before moving out of the state for higher education. Destiny took him to Bangalore where he completed his MBA before returning to Kashmir.

Unlike his rival Omar, Mir is the first generation politician in his family. A scion of a prominent business family of Athawajan, he joined People's Democratic Party (PDP) and rose to the rank of its district president for Srinagar.

Seeing his political acumen and skills, PDP made him the Member of Legislative Council (MLC). But his heart was lying somewhere and he wanted to avenge the defeat of 2009 when he lost by a whisker.

"I took politics as a challenge because Sonawar constituency had been neglected. I did not belong to political family. We are a business family which had no connection whatsoever with politics," he said.

Come September 2014, Mir was again in the spotlight as Sonawar was badly hit by the floods. His own house was submerged but he did not stop here. Mir took the floods as a challenge and worked hard to provide succour to the affected people.

"I was with the people providing them relief. We did not play politics with relief unlike National Conference. We roped in Masjid Intizamia (mosque management) and gave relief to poor," he said.

Mir smelled the victory when shaky Omar deserted Ganderbal and chose Sonawar in Srinagar and Beerwah in Budgam to save his political fortunes. "They were not sure where from they will win and lose. We were pretty sure that we will win Sonawar," he said.

No sooner the results were announced Omar took to twitter to congratulate Mir for his success. "Congratulations to Ashraf Mir for his victory in Sonawar. I wish him & the people all good luck for the next six years. He's now my local MLA," he tweeted.

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