DDC Polls: On Results Eve, What The Political Parties Are Saying?

by Yawar Hussain

SRINAGAR: On the eve of the results of the maiden District Development Council (DDC) elections, the two main camps sound ambitious. While the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) hopes they will sweep off Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Jammu and Kashmir, the right-wing party that is ruling Jammu and Kashmir virtually from Delhi asserted they will sweep Jammu along with its “independents” and party candidates winning in Kashmir as well.

Gupkar Declaration Signatories addressing a joint press conference after meeting at National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah’s residence on Thursday, October 15, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The newly formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) claims that the DDC elections in itself are a “victory” for the government of India while adding that if PAGD does manage to win then they should deliver on bringing in Articles 370 and 35-A.

Though the Jammu and Kashmir administration insists that the DDC is about development, the fact on the ground is that it is hugely political. The Kashmir parties contested primarily to deny space to BJP and its allies. The making of PAGD owes its existence to reading down of Article 370 and binning of Article 35A.

BJP National General Secretary, Narinder Raina said the PAGD contested this election for “grabbing power” but the people of Jammu and Kashmir would throw them out of power.

“The dynastic politics will be wiped out by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. These elections are for development alone but the PAGD contested because they knew they will lose ground which they anyhow have,” Raina said.

BJP leader and Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi addressing a public meeting during campaigning for District Development Council polls, at Kupwara in Kashmir on November 19, 2020. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

He said BJP is confident of winning in Kashmir valley as well where their party candidates along with “independents” backed by the party would throw in a surprise.

“Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti didn’t contest Panchayat and Urban Local Body elections in 2018 but when it came to Parliament and DDC polls they changed stance for grabbing power,” he said. He said BJP believes these elections are only for development. “These elections aren’t a referendum on Article 370.”

PAGD Coordinator and National Conference Parliamentarian Justice (Retd) Hasnain Masoodi said the alliance would win on maximum seats in Jammu and Kashmir.

“BJP led central government tried everything to hamper the PAGD from effectively contesting these elections. But they will get their answer tomorrow,” Masoodi said.

Masoodi said the PAGD fought this election to not let BJP usurp any space in Jammu and Kashmir because they would use that to further their agenda. “They announced and trusted this election on everyone. But people would answer them and their political friends in these elections.”

Apni party President Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari along with other party leaders shows the poll symbol allotted to the party for the elections in Srinagar on Thursday, November 12, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

JKAP Spokesperson and former lawmaker, Javaid Baig said these elections aren’t about ending dynastic politics or any other matter but they are a test whether the PAGD can deliver on bringing back Articles 370 and 35-A. He said the only victor in these elections is the government of India headed by the BJP.

“If PAGD has jumped into these elections to just stop us from developing Jammu and Kashmir then they should state that but if they have jumped into bringing back Articles 370 and 35-A then they should do that,” he said. He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir voted for “development” which is in line with the tradition in the Union Territory.

The results of the 280 seats of the first-ever DDC elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be declared on Tuesday. The major contest in these elections is between 7-party alliance, the PAGD on one side while the BJP and JKAP are fighting them separately.

Amid biting cold, an elderly man being carried on a wheelchair by his relatives towards polling booth situated at Ganderbal so that he could cast his vote for the 3rd phase of DDC elections on Friday, December 4 2020.
Kl Image by Bilal Bahadur

Each district of Jammu and Kashmir has been allocated14 seats with seats reserved for women candidates as well. The party securing the majority of seats in a district will elect a District Development Council Chairperson along with a Vice-Chairperson.

Former Ministers and lawmakers along with kith and kin of senior political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir are fighting these elections.

While the BJP’s incumbent Union Ministers and national level leaders campaigned for over a month in the Union Territory, the regional parties including National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference, Awami National Conference and Communist Party of India (M) have joined hands to counter the BJP from grabbing power. Unless BJP and Apni Party all the political parties claimed they had restrictions on their movement.


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