Independent candidates backed by National Conference and Apni Party won the seats in Kupwara and Bandipore respectively in the Kashmir District Development Council (DDC) polls Thursday. The twin seats went to repoll on December 5, two years after the counting was stopped over the candidature of two candidates.
On Thursday, independent candidate advocate Aminah Majeed won the DDC seat from Dragmulla in Kupwara beating the Peoples Conference candidate Shabnum Lone by a thin margin of 39 votes. While Majeed secured 3,259 votes, her rival managed to get 3220 votes.
Majeed had filed the nomination papers as an independent candidate while her rival Lone had filed papers as a Peoples Democratic Party candidate under the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) – then including National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and Peoples Conference besides some other smaller political parties. However, as the re-poll was delayed by two years, there had been a massive political shift in the valley.
After the Peoples Conference parted ways from the alliance, Lone shifted her loyalties to Peoples Conference. She, however, was seeking votes on the PDP’s election symbol of pen and inkpot as the state election commission decided that only repoll and not re-election would be held on the two DDC seats of Dragmulla and Hajin.
As the NC had not fielded any candidate for the seat and left it for its alliance partner PDP, it backed an independent candidate Majeed this time. The Peoples Democratic Party backed another independent candidate Rifat Jan, who secured only 612 votes.
In Hajin, which faced a similar situation, an independent candidate Naza Begum, who was backed by Altaf Bukhari’s Apni Party, won the DDC seat by 423 votes. She secured 2,606 votes while the Peoples Conference candidate stood second with 2,283 votes. In 2020, the PAGD left the seat open for the Peoples Conference candidate.
The state election commission, in July 2021, ordered repolling for both Dragmulla and Hajin seats after it held that the two candidates – Somia Sadaf in Dragmulla and Shazia Aslam in Hajin – were not allowed to contest the elections as they belonged to the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Sadaf and Aslam are married to Kashmiri men, who had crossed over to Pakistan for arms training and returned to the Valley under the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s rehabilitation policy.
While their nomination papers were accepted and polling was held, the counting was stopped owing to complaints about their candidature.