After People’s Conference candidate Junaid Azim Mattu was elected Srinagar Mayor on Tuesday, party chief Sajjad Lone said that if the recent urban body elections are being called a farce based on voting percentage, “then all the farces of the past have to be called out”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lone said, “There have been high and low voting percentages and varying levels of violence. So, in times of high violence, voting percentage is low. Don’t mistake fear of violence for consent. It (voting percentage) was low in 1996 and 2002, higher in 2008 and 2014, but if you want to say that this is a farce, then be prepared to call out all the farces of the past.”
Lone cited the parliament election conducted before the urban local body elections. “In Srinagar municipal area, participation was 3 per cent. These kids (the new councillors) have gone to 4-5 per cent. Aisa to nahin hai ki wo farce nahin hai, just because he is Farooq Abdullah,” he said.
Emphasising that this is where dynastic politics comes into play, Lone said, “If Farooq Abdullah gets half a per cent votes, that isn’t a farce, but if a poor man secures 20 per cent, it is not convincing?”
Mattu was elected Srinagar mayor eight years after the term of the last elected mayor ended. Mattu secured 40 of the 70 votes polled in a corporation of largely independents.
Mattu said he had become mayor after taking a call of conviction in quitting the National Conference and “finding a position where I can deliver. I could not be a fence-sitter any longer.” He said he would convene a meeting with all corporators of the SMC to identify and analyse the challenges ahead.
Addressing a press conference after the SMC election, Lone said that an era of change has been ushered in with the new mayor, and there would be a marked difference in the city. “With his exposure, he will be the first of his kind. There is a lot to be done, we have to reach out to the poorest people,” Lone added.