Over the last two days, the Altaf Bukhari-led JK Apni Party has claimed that three candidates — one Independent and one each from the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party — who won the District Development Council elections from constituencies in Shopian, have joined its ranks.
With this, the JK Apni Party’s tally in the Shopian DDC will reach five, but it will still be some distance from crossing the majority mark in the 14-member strong council. Originally, Apni Party candidates had won from only two constituencies in Shopian district — Kanjiullar and Keller II.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) candidates won seven seats (National Conference – 3 and PDP – 4). With the support of the lone winning candidate from Congress, Nigeena Akhter from Chitragam, it could have taken the council. But since the anti-defection laws do not apply to the winning candidates of the DDCs, the PAGD does not have any recourse when its winning candidates shift allegiance.
By taking NC and PDP candidates, Apni Party has scuttled PAGD’s chances of taking control of the Shopian DDC. If the remaining three more Independent candidates also join the Apni Party, Bukhari would be able to stake claim to the Shopian DDC.
While the Apni Party has taken winning candidates in Shopian from other parties, the National Conference has said its own Shopian district president has been detained since the results were declared. “District President Shopian Showkat Ahmed Genaie is under detention for three days now; the grounds of detention have not been made known by the administration as yet,” the party said in a statement, demanding his immediate release.
On Friday, Apni Party issued a statement claiming that Yasmeena Jan, a DDC member from Imam Sahib-I seat in Shopian, has joined the JKAP. Jan had won the seat on a National Conference ticket.
Reacting sharply to the Apni Party’s move, former Chief Minister and NC Vice-President Omar Abdullah said in a tweet, “This explains why our leaders in Shopian district are being put under ‘preventive arrest’ by the police. J&K police & the administration are facilitating horse trading & defections. The woman shown here joining the BJP’s B-team contested & won elections on a NC mandate.”
Omar Abdullah also took on the administration for “playing partisan politics”. These parties couldn’t win seats and so “now they are using money/ muscle/ threats & government coercion to make up the numbers. So much for ‘democracy has won’!” he said.
A day before, the Apni Party had said that two victorious candidates Fazal-Din Deedad and Abdul Rashid Lone who also won the Shopian DDC had joined the party. Deedad was an independent candidate who contested the Keller 1 seat in Shopian, and Lone had won on a PDP ticket.