A year-and-a-half after he was elected Mayor of Srinagar, Junaid Azim Mattu was on Tuesday removed through a no-confidence motion.
While corporators of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference, which Mattu is affiliated to, and the Congress abstained, Mattu was voted out by 42 Corporators in the 70- member corporation.
Mattu has blamed the “seemingly unthinkable” coming together of the BJP and National Conference (NC) for his removal. The NC, however, has denied any role.
After the no-confidence was passed, Mattu tweeted, “…The seemingly unthinkable seems to have happened as @JKNC_ and @BJP4India have come together in Srinagar…”.
The corporation has a strength of 74, but four seats are vacant. In the 2018 polls, 17 Congress candidates were elected corporators, followed by six from Peoples Conference and four from the BJP. Later, some Independent Corporators joined Peoples Conference and BJP. While the NC boycotted the polls, some corporators later declared allegiance to the party.
The no-confidence motion, moved by an Independent corporator, saw 42 votes in its favour while 28 corporators abstained.
Alleging that the motion was backed by the BJP, Mattu said he and his party had reached out to Congress and NC.
“Absolutely no doubt that @JKPC_ reached out to both @INCIndia and @JKNC_ leadership to adopt a collective floor strategy to defeat the BJP-backed motion. I personally did too! While PC and INC upheld the floor strategy – JKNC proved to be a pivot to allow the quorum,” Mattu said.
“Here is where JKNC played a pivotal role led by the incumbent Dy mayor – it marked it’s attendance in full as opposed to abstention by JKPC and INC – hence completing the quorum for such a motion! Whether all of them voted for BJP motion or not is irrelevant. Without presence of @JKNC_ in today’s ‘Special Meeting’, the motion would have failed by abstention — without an iota of doubt.”
The NC has denied the allegations. “He (Mattu) should be reminded he was put on this chair by the BJP and all of a sudden BJP decided to think otherwise, so he was brought down. It is all in the house. The National Conference has nothing to do with it,” NC chief spokesman Aga Syed Ruhullah told The Indian Express.
“I don’t understand a person, who comes to SMC with the blessings of Ram Madhav, whose name was mentioned as Mayor by the then Governor (Satya Pal Malik), even before the elections were conducted that this person will be put as mayor… who was a regular attendee at Nagpur… all of a sudden decided to bash NC and equate NC with BJP or allege that the NC has alliance with BJP…”
Ruhullah said there were no deliberations between NC and the Peoples Conference, but added that the four party corporators who voted against Mattu would be expelled. “Yes, some former NC members, some of them wished to join back NC, who happened to be the corporators. They were told to abstain…. NC decided that they will be expelled.”
With Mattu removed, former Deputy Mayor Sheikh Imran is being considered a frontrunner for the mayor post. In December, Imran was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau for alleged misappropriation worth crores from Jammu and Kashmir Bank.
While BJP has denied any role in the process, BJP leader Ashok Koul’s letter to IGP, security, seeking restoration of security cover for Imran has triggered speculation that the party is backing him.
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