THE People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration has won or is leading in 100-plus seats of the total 280 in the District Development Councils (DDCs) in the first-ever elections held in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of the erstwhile state’s special status in August 2019.
Even as votes are still being counted, it is clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party is emerging as the single largest party with wins and leads in 75 DDC seats. It is sweeping the Hindu-dominated districts — Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Samba — in the Jammu Division, leading in 49 out 56 DDC seats.
The poll results mean that the BJP has secured control of at least six District Development Councils (DDCs) in Jammu and none in Kashmir. The People’s Alliance has a majority in nine DDCs, all in the Valley. As there is no clear-cut majority in the five councils, the independent candidates are likely to play the role of king makers.
Both the BJP and the People’s Alliance have termed the poll results as their success. While the BJP has termed the outcome and the voter turnout a contradiction to the “idea of Gupkar Alliance”, the People’s Alliance has said that the people have rejected the “unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370”.
“The overwhelming participation of the people is a clear sign that they believe in democratic procedure rather than bullet and grenade,” BJP’s election-in-charge for the Valley, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said. “The peaceful, free and fair election with record voting turnout contradicts the idea of the Gupkar Alliance,” he said.
Former Chief Minister and Vice President of the People’s Alliance Mehbooba Mufti called it a “hard earned victory”. “Today’s DDC results have made it clear that people of J&K voted en masse for @JKPAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370. They have overwhelmingly supported @JKPAGD which stands for restoration of J&K’s special status,” Mufti tweeted. “Our win is dedicated to PAGD cadre who worked tirelessly to ensure our success. GOI left no stone unturned to create hurdles for us. Beginning with @parawahid’s arrest a day after he filed his DDC nominations, restricting our movement & not allowing us to campaign,” she said in her tweet.
Omar Abdullah, Vice President, of J&K National Conference, which is leading 68 seats, said, “The trends that have emerged in the DDC polls in J&K are very encouraging for the @JKPAGD. The BJP had made this election a prestige issue about Art 370 & J&K’s special status. The people have now spoken & it’s for those who believe in democracy to pay heed to these voices.”
The BJP is turning up as a dominant force in Muslim-dominated Chenab and Pir Panjal regions of Jammu Division as well. Significantly, it also opened its account in the Valley securing three wins, one each in South (Kakapora in Pulwama), North (Tulail in Gurez, Bandipore) and Central Kashmir (Khonmoh in Srinagar).
Independent candidates were leading in about 50 seats, which political sources attributed to good booth-level management by the BJP. The Congress party has once again failed to make a mark in the DDC polls. It is ahead only in nine seats in the Valley and 17 seats in Jammu.
The final tally is expected after midnight.
In a polarised Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference has emerged as the only political party to secure considerable support in both the Kashmir and Jammu divisions of the Union Territory. The results are, however, a big setback to the Centre-backed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari. The party has only won 10 seats.
The official figures reveal that the People’s Alliance, formed by mainstream political parties to seek restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, has won or is leading in 112 seats. Of these, National Conference candidates have won or are ahead of their rivals in 68 seats. Candidates belonging to Mehbooba Mufti-led People’s Democratic Party candidates are ahead in 28 seats.
The Kashmir Division, however, has stood firmly behind the People’s Alliance giving it lead in at least 85 DDC seats. Of these, the National Conference has won or is leading in 42 seats, and PDP in 27 seats. Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference is ahead in eight seats and CPI (M) in five.
Overall, the National Conference is leading in 68 seats – 42 in Kashmir and 26 in Jammu. It has emerged as the only party to have achieved considerable poll success in both the regions of the Union Territory. In fact, it has given a tougher fight to the BJP than the Congress in Jammu’s Hindu heartland.
The independent candidates have shone in the polls leading in around 50 seats – 32 in Kashmir and 17 in Jammu. Surprisingly, a large number were in the fray in the Kashmir Valley, which sources in PAGD said, served to divide the vote share of the alliance partners.
By Tuesday evening, the Election Commission declared the final results for the 241 out of the 280 seats. Of these the BJP secured 68 seats, National Conference 55, PDP 26, Congress 21 and Apni Party 10. The independent candidates were declared winners in 43 DDC seats.
With inputs from ARUN SHARMA in JAMMU
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