New Delhi: The seven-party Gupkar alliance led by Farooq Abdullah swept the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls by winning 110 seats, while the BJP emerged as the single largest party by getting 74 seats after securing the largest vote share in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday.
The results of four constituencies – one each in Bandipora and Kupwara districts of north Kashmir and Poonch and Rajouri districts in Jammu region are still awaited.
Out of the 276 seats for which results have been declared by the J&K Election Commission so far, besides PAGD and BJP, Independent candidates have won 49, Congress 26, Apni Party 12, PDF and National Panthers Party two each and BSP one.
Meanwhile, counting of votes has been deferred in two constituencies – Kupwara (Dragmulla) and Bandipora (Hajin-A) – till further orders, officials said. Two Pakistan-occupied Kashmir nationals are among the contestants from these two seats, and therefore, the state Election Commissioner has directed the returning officers concerned to defer the counting of votes in these two constituencies till further orders.
In Darhal constituency of Rajouri district, BJP’s Mohammad Iqbal Malik is leading over National Conference’s Parvez Rashid by more than 1,000 votes when the counting was in progress.
So far, the PAGD had won six seats, the Congress three and the BJP two while one seat each had gone to the Apni Party and an independent candidate in the district.
The final result of Balakote constituency in Poonch, where Independent candidate Massarat Jabin is leading over her PDP rival Afshan Aftab by a margin of 787 votes, is also awaited. The Congress had won four seats, two seats went to the National Conference, while seven independents have registered their victory from the district so far.
Among the PAGD constituents, the National Conference won the highest number of 67 seats, followed by PDP (27), People’s Conference (eight), CPI(M) five and J&K Peoples Movement (three), getting a total share of over 3.94 lakh votes together.
The BJP, on the other hand, won 74 seats, including three in Kashmir after getting a total of 4.87 lakh votes. However, it only managed to get a clear majority in six districts – Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Samba, Doda and Reasi – all in the Jammu region.
The PAGD managed a good show in Pir Panchal and Chenab valley’s Kishtwar and Ramban districts besides its candidate from National Conference winning one seat each in Jammu and Samba districts.
The Congress polled a total of over 1.39 votes, while the Independents got 1.71 lakh votes.
The eight-phase DDC polls, which began on November 28, is also the first election after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was revoked last year and it was reorganised into a Union Territory. In the election, 140 seats each in the Jammu and Kashmir regions went to polls.
A day ahead of counting of votes, authorities had detained several PDP and second-rung NC leaders, including Naeem Akhtar, Sartaj Madni, Peer Mansoor and Hilal Ahmad Lone. No reason was given for the detentions.
Senior PDP leader Waheed Parra, who is at present in jail after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him in a terror funding case, won from Pulwama-1 and polled 1,323 votes against BJP’s Sajjad Ahmed Raina who polled only 321 votes.
The BJP had something to cheer about in the Kashmir Valley as three of its candidates, Aijaz Hussain, Aijaz Ahmad Khan and Minha Lateef won from Khonmoh-II seat in Srinagar, Tulail seat in Bandipora district and Kakpora in Pulwama respectively.
This is for the first time the BJP has registered a win in the Valley while facing regional heavyweights like the NC and the PDP.
Highlighting the wins in the Kashmir Valley, BJP general secretary Vibodh Gupta congratulated victorious party candidates, especially those who had won in Kashmir, and said the people of the Valley have exhibited their faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The people of Kashmir exhibited their faith in Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi’s vision of Naya Kashmir, and sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas,” Gupta, who is also the party’s in-charge for Kashmir, said.
He said the victories mark a “change of wave” in the Valley and added that the maiden victory in Kashmir “speak of two stories — one of a tough fight by the BJP, marking the beginning of a new era in the Valley, and the other of conveying a strong message to Gupkar Gang that the end of their communal and divisive politics is near.”
Senior BJP leader and Union minister Jitendra Singh said, “three BJP candidates have won from Srinagar. It is testimony to the fact that people of Jammu and Kashmir believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the development of the Union Territory.”
He said the BJP has emerged as a pan-Jammu and Kashmir party after the DDC elections results and it is acceptable to the people of the region.
However, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and NC vice president Omar Abdullah said the results of the DDC elections have made it clear that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted for the Gupkar alliance and rejected the Centre’s decision to reading down Article 370.
Abdullah was quick enough to counter the BJP’s claims, tweeting, “I understand the temptation to over play the 3 seats the BJP has won in the valley but why underplay the 35 wins/leads of the @JKPAGD in Jammu province.”
“We aren’t Kashmir-based parties, we are political parties with strong support in both Kashmir AND Jammu,” the NC leader tweeted
Reacting to the results, Abdullah told PTI that the results and emerging trends of the DDC polls should be an eye-opener for the BJP and its “proxy political party”. He was apparently referring the JKAP.
Today’s DDC results have made it clear that people of J&K voted en masse for @JKPAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370. They have overwhelmingly supported @JKPAGD which stands for restoration of J&Ks special status, the PDP president said.
Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram said the DDC election results show that the voters of Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its “misguided” Kashmir policy.
“Undeterred by the denial of democratic rights, the voters of the Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its misguided Kashmir policy. I compliment the voters for their courage and resolve,” he said on Twitter.
Chidambaram also tweeted, “Even in the Jammu region, a significant number of voters have rejected the divisive and polarising politics of the BJP”. “Both the Congress and the Gupkar Alliance have stood up to the BJP and may win as many seats as the BJP. That is a good sign,” he said.
On August 5 last year, the Centre had revoked the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
BJP’s former minister Shakti Raj Parihar was trailing from both his seats in Doda district, while former ministers Aijaz Khan (JKAP) and Abdul Gani Malik (NC) emerged victorious from Thuroo constituency and Mahore constituency in Reasi district.
Among the prominent loser from Kashmir was Naseer Ahmad Mir, son of state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir. He lost to an Independent candidate Peer Shahbaz Ahmad.