City Mayor Post: ‘Horse-Trading’ On As Independents Hold The Reins

SRINAGAR — Bhartiya Janta Party through its ally Peoples Conference, Congress-backed independents, among others have staked a claim to the prestigious Mayoral post for Srinagar Municipal Corporation. To sustain the claim, all the parties have started “horse-trading” to woo more and more independents, sources said. 

While independents have emerged winners on 48 out of 74 wards in Srinagar, Congress has officially 16 winner candidates and the BJP has four. JD (U) which has fielded a candidate for the mayoral post, has won no seat, at least officially, but also claims numbers to sustain the claim.  

However, as things unfold, the contest seems to be a direct one between Junaid Azim Mattu supported by Peoples Conference headed by Sajjad Gani Lone and businessman turned politician Sheikh Imran who won from a ward in Nishat Srinagar and as per sources, he is being backed by Congress.    

The horse-trading, as they say, is the name of the game and the outcome is extremely unpredictable. The endeavour of all groups to get control has come at a price, literally. If sources are to be believed, all contenders are wooing the candidates by offering hefty sums and “have made some strides.”   

 “Our position is very strong as the majority of independents are with us. We have taken a risk by contesting elections and we will not align with any party. I have requested Independents we should remain independent and we will choose our mayor Independent so as to send a message across Kashmir as to what for we stand,” Imran told Kashmir Observer. 

“Nobody should label us tomorrow and that is why we would not align with any party,” Imran said and stressed that that mayor for the City will be from Independents. He, however, rejected the horse-trading allegations, saying: “There might be something going on in the market but that is a futile exercise. I don’t believe in horse-trading. We contested the election as Independents and we will remain Independent”.  

On the other hand, the BJP is trying to wrestle control through its ally Peoples Conference headed by Sajad Lone. The separatist-turned-mainstream leader and former minister in erstwhile PDP-BJP government, Sajjad Lone, in a recent tweet declared that the Mayor for Srinagar will be from the Peoples Conference (PC). “All set, Insha Allah, to have the first mayor from PC. Expecting very good results. Time to give Srinagar what it deserves. A set of hardworking people who work there on the ground,” Lone wrote on Twitter.

The tweet followed the BJP’s state president Ravinder Raina statement: “This time, lotus will not only bloom in Jammu but in Kashmir as well.” ”BJP will have its Mayors in both capital cities,” he had said, possibly alluding to BJP’s control over SMC through the ally, the People Conference .

Junaid Azim Mattu, who resigned from National Conference to contest the elections, is tipped to be BJP favourite for the Mayor’s post. Formally a Peoples Conference man, Junaid had contested from four wards and won from three—Solina, Rawalpora and  Bud Dal.

The other parties also denied offering cash to candidates to make up the magic number of 38.  

Talking to Kashmir Observer, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President G.A. Mir said: “We are the single largest party in Srinagar with 16 seats, while BJP and PC have four seats each. We have already appealed independents candidates if they want to keep the BJP backed candidates at bay, they should support us and are welcome in our party.”  

Mir added:  “We haven’t nominated anyone for the Mayor yet, it will be done after the oath. When SMC will call councilors for the oath then it will be decided.” 

While denying the reports of horse-trading by the Congress party, he said: “We aren’t part of it. We never believe in that.” 

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