by Yawar Hussain

SRINAGAR: Amid the ongoing mud-slinging in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kashmir unit is now fighting against each other. This is the new angle to a mess in which it was Apni Party (AP) versus NC and NC-BJP versus AP.

On November 28, 2022 evening, a group of BJP’s SMC Corporators led by Nazir Gilkar held a press conference at party headquarters in Srinagar announcing that after a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir’s BJP President Ravinder Raina in Jammu, the party is taking back the support they had lent to Junaid Azim Mattu in November 2020 when he was elected the Srinagar Mayor for a second time following Altaf Bukhari’s “request”.

“We would support a group of independents who wish to file a no-confidence motion against Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu. This is an official press conference of the party,” Gilkar said.

Srinagar Mayor, Junaid Mattu addressing a press conference with Sheikh Imran (third from left) accusing National Conference of corruption. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

However, on Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur countered his party colleague Gilkar’s announcement claiming that whatever they had said in Monday’s presser was their personal view and not that of the party.

“If there would have been any announcement on withdrawing support to SMC Mayor, it would have been announced by me or a decision would have been made public by Jammu and Kashmir BJP Chief or Kashmir in-charge Sunil Sharma,” Thakur said.

He said the people who have yesterday spoken in the press conference aren’t even authorised to decide who to support or oppose. “BJP hasn’t addressed any press conference on the matter. We officially sideline ourselves (party) from the presser.”

Altaf Thakur

Thakur claimed that if the BJP J&K President had taken the decision of withdrawing the support to SMC Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu then it would have been done through the party’s chief whip in SMC Arif Raja.

Interestingly, the meeting in Jammu with Ravinder Raina to withdraw support, referred by Gilkar in his Monday presser had Arif Raja in attendance. The photo of the meeting was tweeted by Gilkar.

Raja was flanking Thakur when he countered Gilkar and announced that the party had nothing to do with his statements.

“Many workers come to the office. They speak here but that doesn’t mean what they say is the official line of the party,” Thakur said, adding that the party would seek an explanation from these people and very soon take action. “They addressed the press conference when all the leaders had left the office.”

Gilkar’s presser had come in the backdrop of his earlier allegations against the SMC Mayor and SMC Commissioner Athar Amir. He had alleged that they had spent a whopping Rs 31 crore on the macadamization of just Hazratbal and Zadibal wards while Rs 5 odd crore was spent on the city’s remaining 72 wards.

SMC Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu flanked by his former bete noire Sheikh Imran has been engaged spat with the National Conference and Deputy Mayor Parvaiz Qadri.

Qadri, who has been frequently seen with NC leaders, has also been disowned by the party whose Corporator and Youth President Salman Ali Sagar recently said that the former wasn’t associated with them.

Mattu, once with NC, and Imran once Mattu’s bete noire and party colleague in PC, have levelled allegations against Qadri who they say has committed various wrongdoings when Salman Ali Sagar’s father and NC General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar was a minister in the Omar Abdullah led coalition government.

The duo had also released a paper on Qadri and Sagars along with saying that NC and BJP were in tacit alliance.

Salman had recently reacted to the allegations saying that Qadri wasn’t with NC and he doesn’t deem it fit to reply to Mattu.

Qadri, who was instrumental in the creation of the Srinagar Corporators Front led by former Mattu accomplice Danish Bhat, has also been raising allegations of corruption against the Mayor.

Parvez Qadri is new Dy Mayor Srinagar

With the no-confidence raked up, Mattu today said that he has the numbers to prove the majority in the Corporation.

“I have the support of the Apni Party Corporators, Sheikh Imran Sahib’s Corporator group along with the support of the opposition Congress Corporators,” Mattu said in a press conference.

He said that the NC has 12-14 corporators among which 12 were welcomed into the party fold by NC Vice President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. “The NC owns and disowns them periodically as per convenience. The BJP has 7 corporators, Apni Party 9; and a party which was formed a break-away from Congress has 12. There are 25-26 independents.”

He said until the NC and BJP don’t come together, no motion can be initiated.

Deputy Mayor Parvaiz Qadri in a separate press conference Tuesday said that they have adequate numbers to bring down the Mayor.

“If the Mayor has used foul language against corporators then he should realise that it is the support of these people that made him mayor,” Qadri said.

Gilkar had also raised the same “foul” language issue against the Mayor saying that such language against corporators doesn’t befit a person claiming to be educated.

“BJP made him Mayor when Sajad Lone came seeking support for him in 2018. Then we brought him down when the PC threw him out. We again made him mayor when Altaf Bukhari came seeking support for him,” Gikar said.

Responding to this, Mayor Mattu said that he condemns Gilkar’s statement on Bukhari and also dragging the names of LG Manoj Sinha, Prime Minister and Home Minister.

Commenting on the SMC mess, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz tweeted, “From Day1 of #NayaKashmir, in  @SMC_Srinagar we are hearing & watching only egregious accusations of “loot, corruption, kidnapping, blackmailing, moral turpitude, sexploitation” from Mayor/x-Mayor/Dy Mayor/x-Dy Mayor/Councillors against one another & officers. Where’s the BigBoss?”

“If such a putrefying ‘model of democracy is also going to be introduced in Kashmir through the UT’s Assembly, it will be a shame and a horrendous disservice to the Indian nation, the idea of India and the Indian democracy. Someone in New Delhi will have to own this misfortune,” Fayyaz, former bureau chief of The Hindu newspaper added.


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