Bashir Manzar

With Congress support, PAGD can head 12 DDCs leaving 5 districts for BJP

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PC registers highest success rate of 72.72%, winning 8 of 11 contested seats; Apni Party wins 12 out of 134 with lowest strike rate of 8.95%

In Srinagar and Poonch, independents would be key players; In Reasi, BJP may need to woo one independent or Apni Party which has 2 seats

Srinagar: As expected the results of the maiden District Development Council (DDC) elections held in Jammu and Kashmir have thrown up many surprises, laying bare some false notions and clearing airs on certain other beliefs.

Obviously, each party is interpreting these results to suit their respective claims, but an objective interpretation and analyses of the available data is a clear indictment of false binaries of ‘either-or’ politics projected by the bigger groups as many a greyer shades have become visibly evident.

For instance, the regional majors — National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — which have dominated the J&K politics for decades, have clearly been relegated to a second fiddle by the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) in terms of the vote share. BJP has emerged as the single largest party winning 75 seats, while NC stands at number two with 67 seats, and PDP at number four with just 27 seats, and clearly behind the Independents, who are seen as political novices by the major political groups. Independents have fared far better with 50 seats.

However, while discussing BJP’s seat- and vote-share, one cannot ignore the fact that while BJP contested on 183 seats, NC fought on 132 seats and PDP on 63 only.

Secondly, BJP won 72 seats from Jammu division which recorded more than 70 percent of votes while as Kashmir division in comparison recorded very low turnout.

Interestingly, NC has won seats in 18 districts which no other party including BJP, INC and PDP could do. Udhampur and Kathua are the only two districts where NC could not win a single seat.

Interesting facet of the 278 results available so far is the strike (success)  rate of different parties.

If seats contested and seats won are analysed, Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference has 72.72 percent strike (success) rate. PC contested on 11 seats and pocketed eight followed by CPI(M), which contested 7 seats and won 5, with 71.42% strike rate.

The newly floated Apni Party is at the bottom as it contested on 134 seats and won only 12 at a paltry 8.95 percent strike rate.

NC contested 132 seats, won 67 (50.75 percent); BJP contested 183, won 75 (40.98 percent); PDP won 27 out of 63 (42.85 percent) and INC won 26 out of 118 seats contested (22.03 percent).

Surprisingly independent candidates, all over the Union Territory, performed very well and won 50 seats out of 278 (17.98 percent of the total 280 seats).

Now that the results are out, barring two seats one each in Kupwara and Bandipora, the focus is shifting towards DDC chairmen.

Given the results available, People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) is comfortable in Kupwara, Budgam, Pulwama, Anantnag, Ganderbal and Kulgam where it can win the DDC chairmen elections hands down.

If Congress also supports the PAGD, the combination will comfortably have its DDC chairmen in Baramulla, Bandipora, Shopian, Rajouri, Ramban, and Kishtwar too leaving only 5 districts to BJP – Doda, Udhampur, Kathua, Jammu and Samba.

In Reasi, BJP has won 7 seats so to lead the DDC it would have to either woo the sole independent candidate or Apni Party, which has won two seats there.

Poonch district would be interesting to watch. The majority lies with Independent candidates who have won eight seats followed by INC (4) and NC (2).

In Srinagar also, seven seats have been won by the Independents, three by Apni Party and one by BJP. PAGD has just three seats in the capital district. Here also key to DDC chairman lies with the Independents.

How things would unfold and how the Independents would behave is to be seen. PDP President Mehbooba Mufti has already blown the whistle accusing ‘BJP and its proxies’ of abducting independent candidates.

She tweeted: “BJP & its proxies are sore losers & have resorted to abducting independents who won DDC elections. They are shamelessly using all means to increase their tally. This isn’t dance but death of democracy in J&K.”

She was responding to someone who had claimed that his father Abdul Hamid Sheikh of Devpora who won DDC election from Shopian as independent has been abducted by some Apni Party leader’s men and SoG of Police.

Allegations and counter allegations will continue but fact of the matter is that elections to DDC were held – held in a peaceful atmosphere and the people have spoken out. Now which party reads it which way, it could be an unending debate.

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