Srinagar: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has won a total of 110 seats in the maiden District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The polls were held on 280 seats, 14 in each of the 20 districts of J&K. The results of 278 seats have been declared — counting in two seats is yet to begin as two of candidates in them are from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Of the 278 seats, the PAGD, which is a conglomerate of regional and national parties batting for the reinstatement of Article 370, emerged victorious on 110.
Among the alliance partners, the National Conference (NC) won 67 seats, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 27, Peoples’ Conference (PC) eight, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM) three and CPI(M) five.
The Congress won 26 seats taking the number of the PAGD plus Congress seats to 136 out of 276.
Of the total 2,178 candidates, BJP had fielded 235 candidates across J&K, the NC had fielded 169, PDP 68, Apni Party 166, Congress 157, PC and JKPM 11 each, CPI (M) eight, LJP six, and Panthers Party 54. A total of 1,238 independent candidates were in the fray.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single-largest party in the first DDC polls winning 75 seats, of which 72 were in Jammu. The BJP won three seats in Kashmir province, one each in Srinagar, Bandipora and Pulwama districts.
According to government figures, the NC won 42 seats in Kashmir and 25 in Jammu. The PDP won 26 in Kashmir and only one in Jammu. Congress managed to secure 16 and 10 seats in Jammu and Kashmir respectively. The Apni Party, which is considered Kings Party, won nine seats in Kashmir and another three in Jammu division.
The BJP managed to secure three seats in Kashmir despite one of its star campaigners, former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain, camping in the Valley for nearly a month. The party, however, did manage to make inroads in Srinagar, Pulwama and Gurez region of J&K.
“Although we have won three seats in Kashmir, we gave all of the other parties a run for their money,” BJP media incharge Manzoor Bhat said. “We are way ahead of the Congress. We are the single-largest party in J&K and have won almost half of the total seats in Jammu.”
Independent candidates also managed to make a significant mark securing a total of 49 seats in J&K. Of these 49 seats, 27 were won by independent candidates in Kashmir and the rest in Jammu division. Sources in the PAGD as well as BJP said in the coming time all political groups will lay claim on the 49 independent candidates who themselves might be inclined to join one political group or the other.
The Kashmir story
Of its total 110 seats, the PAGD managed to win 84 in the Kashmir division. The Congress won 10 seats in the Valley.
Of the 10 districts in Kashmir region, the PAGD has clear majorities in nine seats except for Srinagar district. In Srinagar, out of the 14 constituencies, independents managed to win seven, leaving the NC, whose president and former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah, with only one seat. One seat in Srinagar went to PDP, three to Apni party and one to BJP.
The Srinagar seat won by the BJP went to Aijaz Hussain Rather who is the national vice-president of the party’s youth wing. Rather is also one of the in-charges of the BJP unit in West Bengal.
Although PAGD had not reached a consensus on seat sharing in Jammu province, in Kashmir, the alliance’s principal opponents, which include the BJP, might have wanted more than they got.
The BJP won nearly half (72) of the total 140 seats. The Apni Party, a newly formed outfit that advocates moving on from the demand of Article 370, won only three seats. The other major force in Jammu, the Panthers Party, also managed to win only two seats. The Congress won 16 seats in Jammu and PDP emerged victorious on one.
The National Conference has, meanwhile, performed exceptionally in Jammu winning 25 seats. Of 10 districts in Jammu, the BJP has majorities in four districts which include Doda, Udhampur, Khatua, Jammu and has won half of 14 seats in Reasi and Samba. In the rest of the four districts, which have mixed populations of Hindus and Muslims, it is the National Conference and Congress that have majorities.
National Conference MP from Anantnag, Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, told ThePrint, “We have won a considerable amount of seats in Jammu despite all the polarisation done by BJP. There were other challenges, such as we were not allowed to campaign, harassment by central agencies but people of both Jammu and Kashmir have given a strong statement by voting for the Gupkar Alliance. The BJP now should introspect.”