The seven-party Gupkar alliance led by Farooq Abdullah was ahead in the seat tally in the maiden District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir by winning or leading in 112 seats out of 280 on Tuesday (December 22), followed by the BJP which emerged as the single largest party as it won 73 seats including three in the Kashmir valley for the first time.
The Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has bagged 100 seats and was leading in 12 others, according to data from the union territory’s election commission.
Forty-seven Independents, mainly disgruntled leaders from all political parties, have been declared winners and six more were leading in other seats.
The Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) put up a dismal performance by bagging 11 seats and leading in another seat. The Congress so far won 22 seats and was leading in five other council seats.
The eight-phase DDC polls, which began on November 28, are the first election after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was revoked last year and it was reorganised into a Union Territory. In the election, 140 seats each in the Jammu and Kashmir regions went to polls.
The trends in most seats in the DDC elections were in accordance with expectations — the BJP maintained its strength in the Jammu division while the PAGD, which includes regional heavyweights the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was ahead in Kashmir, besides Pir Panchal and the Chenab Valley regions of Jammu.
A day ahead of counting of votes, authorities had 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.
Senior PDP leader Waheed Parra, who is at present in jail after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him in a terror funding case, won from Pulwama-1 and polled 1,323 votes against BJP’s Sajjad Ahmed Raina who polled only 321 votes.
The BJP had something to cheer about in the Kashmir valley as three of its candidates — Aijaz Hussain, Aijaz Ahmad Khan and Minha Lateef — won from Khonmoh-II seat in Srinagar, Tulail seat in Bandipora district and Kakpora in Pulwama respectively.
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 Kashmir region, BJP general secretary Vibodh Gupta congratulated the 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 marked a “change of wave” in the Valley and added that the maiden victory in Kashmir “speaks 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”.
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 Centres 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.