Srinagar: With only a day remaining for the filing of nominations for the first phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections, the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), the conglomerate of regional political parties advocating for the restoration of Article 370, is yet to reach a consensus on seat-sharing.
The PAGD comprises the National Conference (NC), the PDP, CPI(M), CPI, People’s Conference, Awami National Conference, People’s Movement and Congress.
The PAGD leadership said the alliance was working to create a “formula” for seat-sharing and the final list of candidates will be released late Wednesday and those named will file their nominations before the deadline Thursday.
There had been no consensus on seat-till the time of publishing this report.
Sources said two meetings held on 10-11 November at the NC’s Srinagar headquarters to discuss the seat-sharing arrangement remained inconclusive.
Leaders, who attended these meetings, also met NC president and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah Wednesday.
Difference of opinion between alliance partners
The alliance last week decided to fight the maiden DDC elections together. However, sources in the PAGD said, the partners were having a difference of opinion on the number of seats to be allotted to the respective political parties.
According to a PAGD source, the NC demanded the lion’s share of seats, but other alliance partners expressed reservations on it.
The alliance partners argued the division of seats should be based on the results of 2014 assembly elections.
“There are 20 districts in J&K. If there is a district where a party had managed to win maximum assembly segments, ideally, all the DDC seats in that district should be left vacant for the party, which had emerged victorious in the 2014 state elections. But the NC had some reservations (on this condition),” said the source.
A second PAGD source explained to ThePrint the reason behind NC’s reservations.
“Of course the NC did not manage to win majority seats in J&K during the last assembly elections, but the party won all three seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The NC argued that at certain seats, where they had previously lost the 2014 assembly polls, their leaders would have higher chances of winning,” the second source said.
The first phase of the DDC elections, the first polls to be held since J&K became a union territory last August, will be held on 28 November. Over 40 seats in Jammu and Kashmir divisions will go to polls that day.
While the last date for filing of nominations for the first phase of the polls is 12 November, the date of scrutiny of the papers is 13 November and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is 16 November. The DDC polls will be held in eight phases.
‘Deliberate attempt’ to rush polls in Kashmir
Anantnag MP and senior NC leader Justice Hasnain Masoodi (retd) said the alliance will reach a consensus.
“It is natural to have ups and downs. The Gupkar alliance has eight partners and all of us want what is best for the alliance and for J&K. It is natural to have disagreements as we are passing through a very difficult phase of our history, so everyone is concerned about the future,” Masoodi told ThePrint.
Masoodi also said there was a “deliberate attempt” by the central government to rush the DDC elections in Kashmir.
“Elections are the epitome of any democracy and there are details that must be discussed at great length. What is happening instead is there is an effort to rush the DDC polls. Such things need a lot of time and that is something we are running short of. Nevertheless, the consensus will be reached,” Masoodi added.
J&K Congress chief G.A. Mir said the elections “are not about one’s ability to win but also about principles”.
“If any party is expecting to be allotted DDC seats even though they do not have a presence in that particular district, they also need to make compromises and adjust their partners in their own bastions. This is about standing united and that is the most important part of the elections,” Mir added.