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With Congress, Gupkar alliance has majority in 12 DDCs in J&K, but parties still wary

The Kashmir Division and Jammu Division comprise 10 DDCs each, and every DDC is divided into 14 territorial constituencies, elections for which were held over eight phases. For clear majority in a DDC, any party or alliance requires a minimum of eight seats.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: December 24, 2020 7:28:32 am
National Conference leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah at the party office in Srinagar on Wednesday.

With counting over and results out for all 280 territorial constituencies barring two, it is clear that the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has gone past the majority mark in six District Development Councils (DDCs), all in the Kashmir Division of the Union Territory of J&K.

The Kashmir Division and Jammu Division comprise 10 DDCs each, and every DDC is divided into 14 territorial constituencies, elections for which were held over eight phases. For clear majority in a DDC, any party or alliance requires a minimum of eight seats.

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) consists of five parties — J&K National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, CPI(M), J&K People’s Conference and J&K People’s Movement — and were rivals in the past.

It has bagged seven seats each in three more DDCs in the Kashmir Division, namely, Bandipur, Baramulla and Shopian, but with the support of Congress, it can go past the 50 per cent mark, and wrest control of the Councils. Similarly, the PAGD-Congress can stake claim in three DDCs in the Jammu Division, namely, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Ramban.

Mehbooba Mufti at her home in Srinagar. (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

In all, the post-poll arithmetic suggests that the People’s Alliance along with the Congress can take 12 DDCs (nine in Kashmir and three in Jammu). But they are wary, and not celebrating yet because of fear that winning Independent candidates or even their own may change parties.

The National Conference and the Congress Wednesday accused the civil and police administration of doing the BJP’s bidding in the Valley. “The administration has now taken on the responsibility of trying to collect independent candidates for the BJP and its subsidiary. It seems the government doesn’t have enough to do and has branched out into this line of work as well,” former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah said in a tweet.

Congress state President Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the BJP has put on the job the Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police to find and bring the independent candidates to the party. “The entire administration is playing the role of BJP’s B team,” he told The Indian Express.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which polled the maximum votes and also emerged the single-largest party in terms of number of seats —75 out of total 278 declared — could get a clear majority in only five DDCs, all in the Jammu Division. It is past the 50 per cent-mark in four DDCs in the Hindu heartland of Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Samba, and one in Doda in the Chenab Valley region. In alliance with Altaf Bukhari’s JK Apni Party, it can take control of the Reasi DDC too.

Manzoor Ahmad, a candidate of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, celebrates his win from a DDC constituency in Srinagar on Tuesday. (Shuaib Masoodi)

Hypothetically, if all Independent candidates gravitate towards the BJP, it can even get past the majority in Poonch too.

Similarly, in the Kashmir Division, the BJP can take control of the Srinagar DDC if independents agree to be part of an alliance led by the saffron party. In Srinagar, along with JK Apni Party, the duo’s tally is four seats. If four of the seven independent candidates sway towards BJP, then it will be past the majority mark.

While Congress has not categorically said it would support the People’s Alliance, its national spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, “We have not taken a decision on this so far… But if you see Gupkar on one side and BJP on the other side, we cannot at any cost support the BJP… but whom to support that decision is yet to be taken.”

Its state President Mir said, “But natural, when all political parties fought a big battle against the wrong policies and decision of the BJP – and the people also took it as a signal and gave such a big anti-BJP mandate – it is the duty of the mainstream political parties to agree to give and take for the institutions of the district councils.”

Among the 10 DDCs in Kashmir Division, the People’s Alliance is all set to gain control of six – Kupwara, Ganderbal, Budgam, Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag.

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