The counting of votes for the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday has given a clear lead to the People's Alliance For Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of Kashmiri political parties that was floated on October 7 for the reversal of constitutional changes made to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year
The counting of votes for the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday has given a clear lead to the People's Alliance For Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of Kashmiri political parties that was floated on October 7 for the reversal of constitutional changes made to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year.
Of the 280 seats that went to polls for the DDC elections - grassroots election in Jammu and Kashmir - the leads on 258 seats have indicated that the the PAGD, has either won or is leading on 107 segments, the BJP leading on 65 segments, the Congress on 22, Apni Party which was launched after the abrogation of Article 370 on 10 and others on 54 segments.
On expected lines, the PAGD has bagged most of the seats from the Kashmir valley while BJP has fared well in its traditional bastion of Jammu.
The BJP has though been successful to break into Kashmir valley by winning three seats.
Engineer Aijaz Hussain, the BJP candidate from Khanmoh-II in Srinagar, and Aejaz Ahmad Khan won a seat from the Bandipora district while Minha Lateef won from Kakpora in Pulwama.
"BJP wins 1st DDC seat in Kashmir, I Congratulate Er. Aijaz Hussain (@IAmErAijaz) on being elected from Khonmoh-II DDC Constituency of Srinagar District, it is the first win of BJP from Kashmir, I also Congratulate BJP Workers and especially Voters for their support," J&K BJP General Secretary Ashok Kaul tweeted.
BJP National Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain also took to Twitter and announced BJP's win in Kashmir.
"The first lotus has bloomed in Kashmir! Engineer Aijaz Hussain wins from Khanmoh II, Srinagar, Kashmir by a good margin."
After winning his seat Aejaz Hussain told reporters that the PAGD must revisit its policies.
"People have shown faith in the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and made BJP victorious," he said.
The DDC elections were held in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time after the revocation of Article 370 of the Constituion and bifurcation of the erstwhile state. The newly created DDCs went to polls in eight phases from November 28 to December 22 in eight phases.
The 280 DDC seats, 14 each in 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir, were created after the Centre amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Act of 1989 in October this year. But what made DDC polls significant is the decision of PAGD to jointly contest for preventing the BJP from making inroads into Jammu and Kashmir.
. National Conference President Farooq Abdullah was appointed president of the alliance and PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti its vice president. The two former chief ministers were among mainstream leaders detained after the abrogation of Article 370 with Public Safety Act (PSA) slapped on them. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah was also detained and had a PSA slapped on him.
People's Conference leader Sajad Lone was made the spokesperson and CPIM leader Yousuf Taragami its convenor. The flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was adopted as the symbol of the alliance.
More than a fight for local issues, the DDC election turned into a direct contest between the BJP and its allies and the PAGD. But even before the counting took place, the PDP alleged that three of its senior leaders including senior leader Naeem Akhtar, were detained.
"Total lawlessness as PDPs Sartaj Madni and Mansoor Hussain have been arbitrarily detained today on the eve of DDC election results," Mehbooba Mufti tweeted. "Every senior police officer here is clueless as it is 'upar say order'. No rule of law in J&K anymore. It is out and out Gunda Raj."
What's also significant is the victory of PAGD candidate and PDP leader Waheed Parra from Pulwama 1 constituency defeating his nearest rival Sajad Ahmad Raina of the BJP. Parra was arrested by the NIA on November 25 in connection with ex-Deputy Superintendent of J&K Police Davinder Singh case for supporting Hizbul Mujahideen activities. Singh and Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Naveed Babu were arrested while travelling from Srinagar to Jammu in January this year.
Former Chief Minister and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti took to Twitter and wrote that Parra's victory indicated the love and trust people have shown for him.
"Couldn't be prouder of PDPs @parawahid who won his maiden election by a huge margin of votes. Despite being arrested on baseless charges right after filing his nomination people have shown their love & trust for Waheed. Hope justice prevails," Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
A clear victory for the PAGD is a shot in its arm and a show of its representational character to take on the BJP in its fight for the reversal of the constitutional changes made to J&K on August 5 last year. For the BJP though the challenge will be to turn the tide in its favour before the assembly elections.
According to The HIndu, this is the first democratic exercise in the region since the Modi government revoked the erstwhile border state's special status and is a crucial opportunity to open a new political dialogue in the Union Territory. In the absence of an assembly, the DDCs will be the link between the people and the government in Jammu and Kashmir and each council chairperson will enjoy the status of a junior minister. The larger context also is that though these are local body polls the result will be seen as a sort of referendum on the changes in J&K.
For the BJP, aside from a strong showing in Jammu, for the first time, the party won three seats from the Valley’s Srinagar, Pulwama and Bandipora districts. "Where earlier in the valley, we wouldn’t get a single person to hold the BJP flag, we managed to win three seats (at the time of writing),” a BJP leader told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity
"The editorial, peaceful, participatory election in a troubled region can be the most forceful demonstration of the resilience of Indian democracy. The fact that the results of the election are not being contested on either side and that the process itself, conducted over eight phases, was not marred by controversy or violence and saw high participation are all signs that portend well for the future," the respected newspaper said.