DDC Polls: Gupkar Ahead But Independents Hold The Key

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 An independent candidate celebrates his win with supporters outside a counting centre in Srinagar- KO Photo by Abid Bhat

PAGD Bags Over 100 Seats From JK, BJP Wins 73 DDC Constituencies

Jammu: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of seven political parties, won over 100 seats while the BJP emerged as the single largest party after winning 73 seats in the district development council (DDC) polls, as results for 260 of the 280 seats had been announced by late Tuesday night.

As many as 47 seats were bagged by Independent candidates, while the Congress party won 22 seats.

By winning three seats in Kashmir, the BJP on Tuesday won an election for the first time from any seat in the Valley while facing regional heavyweights like the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party. The NC and the PDP are part of the Gupkar Alliance.

As per the latest information from the state election authority (SEA), the BJP has bagged the highest number of 73 seats, followed by 60 seats by the NC, 26 seats by the PDP and 22 by the Congress.

As per the data, the newly setup Apni Party bagged 11 seats followed by eight seats by J&K Peoples Conference, five seats by CPIM, three seats by J&K People’s movement, two each by Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers’ Party (JKNPP) and the Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) and one seat by the BSP

Several former ministers and legislators – Taj Mohideen, Aijaz Khan, Gharu Ram, Abdul Gani, Jagjeevan Lal won the DCC elections.

BJP won 13 of the 14 constituencies in Kathua district.

Aijaz Hussain won the Khonmoh-II District Development Council seat in Srinagar, while Aijaz Ahmad Khan gave the party more reason to cheer by winning the Tulail seat in Bandipora district.

 Victorious BJP candidate Ajaz Ahmad welcomed at home in Balhama- KO Photo by Abid Bhat

PDP leader Waheed Para, under arrest for his alleged links with militants, won from his hometown in Pulwama constituency by a huge margin.

This is the first election after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution was revoked last year and it was reorganised into a union territory.

A day ahead of the counting, authorities detained several PDP and second rung NC leaders, including Naeem Akhtar, Sartaj Madni, Peer Mansoor and Hilal Ahmad Lone. No reason was given for the detentions.

The votes were being counted in Jammu and Kashmir regions amid tight security arrangements. There are 140 DDC seats each in Jammu and Kashmir regions. Both regions have 10 districts each, constituting total 20 districts in the UT. Each district comprises 14 seats, resulting in a total of 280 seats.

This is for the first time the BJP has registered a win in the Valley while facing regional heavyweights like the NC and the PDP.

Highlighting the wins in the Kashmir Valley, BJP general secretary Vibodh Gupta congratulated victorious party candidates, especially those who had won in Kashmir, and said the people of the Valley have exhibited their faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The people of Kashmir exhibited their faith in Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi’s vision of Naya Kashmir, and sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas,” Gupta, who is also the party’s in-charge for Kashmir, said.

He said the victories mark a “change of wave” in the Valley and added that the maiden victory in Kashmir “speak of two stories — one of a tough fight by the BJP, marking the beginning of a new era in the Valley, and the other of conveying a strong message to Gupkar Gang that the end of their communal and divisive politics is near.”

Senior BJP leader and Union minister Jitendra Singh said, Three BJP candidates have won from Srinagar. It is testimony to the fact that people of Jammu and Kashmir believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the development of the Union Territory.

He said the BJP has emerged as a pan-Jammu and Kashmir party after the DDC elections results and it is acceptable to the people of the region.

However, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and NC vice president Omar Abdullah said the results of the DDC elections have made it clear that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted for the Gupkar alliance and rejected the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370.

Abdullah was quick enough to counter the BJP’s claims, tweeting, “I understand the temptation to over play the 3 seats the BJP has won in the valley but why underplay the 35 wins/leads of the @JKPAGD in Jammu province.

“We aren’t Kashmir based parties, we are political parties with strong support in both Kashmir AND Jammu,” the NC leader tweeted

Today’s DDC results have made it clear that people of J&K voted en masse for @JKPAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370. They have overwhelmingly supported @JKPAGD which stands for restoration of J&Ks special status, the PDP president said.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the DDC election results show that the voters of Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its “misguided” Kashmir policy.

“Undeterred by the denial of democratic rights, the voters of the Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its misguided Kashmir policy. I compliment the voters for their courage and resolve,” he said on Twitter.

Chidambaram also tweeted, “Even in the Jammu region, a significant number of voters have rejected the divisive and polarising politics of the BJP”. “Both the Congress and the Gupkar Alliance have stood up to the BJP and may win as many seats as the BJP. That is a good sign,” he said.

On August 5 last year, the Centre had revoked the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

BJP’s former minister Shakti Raj Parihar lost election to a National Conference candidate from Gundna segment in Doda district, while former ministers Aijaz Khan (JKAP) and Abdul Gani Malik (NC) emerged victorious from Thuroo constituency and Mahore constituency in Reasi district.

In Doda district, the BJP has so far bagged four seats, Congress two, while one seat went into the kitty of the NC. An independent also has won from a seat. The results of eight out of 14 seats have been declared so far.

As per figures of the State election commission, Parihar lost to NC candidate Asim Hashmi by 1,336 votes. Hashmi polled 7,835 votes and Parihar 6,499, it said.

Hashmi was a candidate of People’s Alliance for Gupkar declaration (PAGD) — an amalgam of several mainstream political parties seeking the restoration of the special status of J-K– which is fighting the polls together.

Parihar, who is the state BJP vice president, is considered a political heavyweight in the region. He was a minister in the previous BJP-PDP government.

Among the prominent loser from Kashmir was Naseer Ahmad Mir, son of state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir. He lost to an independent candidate Peer Shahbaz Ahmad.

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