Leaders of the Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, a coalition of seven regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Bharatiya Janata Party both celebrated the results of the District Development Council elections on Wednesday.
The alliance won over 100 seats as of Wednesday afternoon, while the BJP emerged the single-largest party with 74 seats. Some results are still awaited.
The BJP claimed that its election performance marked the victory of democracy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for Jammu and Kashmir, while the Gupkar alliance said that the people had rejected the Centre’s decision to scrap the region’s special status and supported the coalition “overwhelmingly”.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, whose Peoples Democratic Party is a constituent of the Gupkar alliance, said the results of the election were “very encouraging”, NDTV reported. Mufti, however, added that she will personally not contest any election till the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 is restored.
Mufti had said in a tweet that the people stood against the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, which clearly showed in the election results. She said that her party did well despite the attempts to write it off.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, meanwhile, said that the alliance lost some seats that it was expecting to win, ANI reported. “We must also accept that there are some weaknesses in our organisation in some areas,” he added.
Abdullah also said the BJP was unlikely to hold Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir soon because of their defeat in the DDC elections. “They would have announced the polls by now had they believed in democracy,” he said. “So, we have time to strengthen our party.”
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, said that the elections could be surmised as a victory of democracy and a victory for the locals. “It’s also a victory of the vision which PM Modi had envisioned for the state,” he said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said good voter turnout in the DDC polls showed that people had faith in democracy. “Modi government is doing everything possible to restore the grass root democracy in Jammu and Kashmir,” he tweeted. “The recently held DDC polls for the first time in the history of J&K is the testimony of the same.”
Anurag Thakur, the BJP’s in-charge of the DDC elections, said the results were a befitting reply to Mufti, who had refused to unfurl the national flag in October, Hindustan Times reported. “Independent candidates have polled more votes than the Congress and the PDP,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
A total of 2,178 candidates contested the DDC elections – the first since the erstwhile state lost its special status under the Constitution on August 5, 2019. Each of the 20 districts were divided into 14 segments. As per results announced for 276 seats of the total 280, the Gupkar Alliance secured 110 seats, while the BJP won 74. Notably, as many as 49 seats were bagged by Independent candidates, while the Congress party won 26 seats. The recently floated Apni Party won 12 seats, whereas Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and the Peoples Democratic Front won two seats each. The Bahujan Samaj Party managed to get just one seat.
Among the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration constituents, the National Conference won the highest number of 67 seats. This was followed by Peoples Democratic Party getting 27 seats, People’s Conference eight, Communist Party of India (Marxist) five, and J&K Peoples Movement got three seats. Together, these parties got over 3.94 lakh votes.
The BJP, on the other hand, got over 4.87 lakh votes. It managed to get a clear majority in the Hindu-dominated districts of Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Samba, Doda and Reasi. With the results, the BJP has gained control over at least six District Development Councils in Jammu.
In Kashmir, the Gupkar alliance won 72 seats, while the BJP could win just three. While the regional alliance was set to have majority in nine district councils, Srinagar remained undecided, where Independents were leading. The Apni Party won three DDC seats from the district, followed by one each by the National Conference, the BJP and People’s Movement.
The results of four constituencies – one each in Bandipora and Kupwara districts of North Kashmir and Poonch and Rajouri districts in Jammu region – are yet to be declared.