The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday won a election in Kashmir for the first time as its candidate Aijaz Hussain bagged the Khonmoh-II District Development Council seat in Srinagar, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, Vibodh Gupta, the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit general secretary claimed that the results of the polls were a reflection of people’s faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership.

“The people of Kashmir exhibited their faith in PM Narendra Modi’s vision of naya Kashmir, and sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas,” Gupta said. Commenting on Hussain’s victory in particular, Gupta said that it belongs to party’s members in Kashmir “who have shed their blood fighting a tough battle against terrorism”.

“BJP’s maiden victories in DDC elections in Kashmir speak of two stories – one of a tough fight by the Bharatiya Janata Party, marking the beginning of a new era in the Valley, and the other of conveying a strong message to Gupkar Gang [Gupkar Alliance] that the end of their communal and divisive politics is near,” he added.

Several BJP leaders congratulated Hussain for his victory marking the saffron party’s breakthrough in the Valley.

In the overall tally, however, the Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration took a considerable lead over the BJP, as trends continued to emerge for 280 constituencies where counting began on Tuesday morning. As per latest trends, the People’s Alliance, a coalition of regional parties, including the National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party, was ahead in 108 seats, while the BJP was leading in 60 seats. The Congress was leading in only 22 seats.

DDC polls

Elections for the 280 seats – 14 in each of the 20 districts of the Union Territory – began on November 28 and concluded on December 19.

The elections are a step to setting up district development councils, a new addition to Jammu and Kashmir’s panchayati raj system. The directly elected district councils will replace the district development boards originally envisaged as the third tier of local government by the 1989 Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act. The boards were to consist of the block council chiefs, local MPs, MLAs and municipal council members. But Jammu and Kashmir’s legislative Assembly was dissolved after August 5 last year.

The jurisdiction of the district development councils, which have a five-year term, will not extend to those areas notified as municipalities. So elections will only be held in areas falling outside municipalities. There are reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.

Each district council will have five standing committees – one each for finance, development, public works, health and education, and welfare. While they might look after the day to day and developmental needs of the district, members of the council have no say on larger political issues such as special status, land laws and industrial policy.