Congress may support PAGD in DDCs formation to keep BJP away in Chenab Valley, Pir Panjal regions


Jammu, December 23: In a move that will comfortably place National Conference have its own chairperson in three District Development Councils and the Congress in one across Jammu region, the latter here on Wednesday said that it can support People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration to keep BJP out of power in the maiden DDCs in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Of the 20 DDCs in the Union Territory, BJP has clear majority in only five districts of Jammu division, said J&K Congress’ chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma, adding that “to ensure that it does not have its chairperson in others, we can support PAGD’’. 

“We already had seat sharing with it during the just concluded DDC elections,’’ he said, adding that while there had been seat sharing at 75 per cent places, we had a friendly contest at the remaining 25 per cent places’’. “Nearly half of the seats, they have won were left by us and so this is our victory as well,’’ the Congress leader said, adding a final decision in the matter, however, rests with the party high command.

He, however, made it clear that “though we had seat sharing agreement with PAGD, we were not part of Gupkar agenda’’.

Sharma said that the BJP has clear majority in five DDCs of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Doda, while in Reasi it has just reached half way mark by winning seven of the 14 seats. Of the remaining seven seats, National Conference has got three, JKAP (two) and Congress and independent (one each). The independent was supported by Congress and so he is also with us, he added.

With Congress joining hands with PAGD in formation of DDCs will comfortably place National Conference in having its own chairperson in Rajouri, Ramban and Kishtwar, and the former in Poonch district.

Significantly Ramban and Kishtwar districts had been strongholds of BJP and these form part of Udhampur-Kathua parliamentary constituency being represented by Minister of State in the PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh. While in Ramban NC has won six seats and Congress (two), both these parties have  six and three seats in Kishtwar, respectively. 

Similarly, in Rajouri district where NC has won five seats and PDP (one), the Congress support with its three seats will raise their tally in the 14-member DDC to nine. The BJP in the district has won only three three seats, followed by JKAP and independent (one each).

Similarly in Poonch district where eight independents have won, the Congress with four members and NC’s two and two independents can comfortably have its own chairperson there. In this connection, former expects to get the support of at least two independents, Mohammad Shahnawaz (Surankote-A) and Riyaaz Choudhary (Loran). The latter contested the DDC polls as independent as the party mandate could not reach him on time and the former was still a party member who had been served show cause notice for contesting against the Congress’ official nominee, Sharma pointed out.

He also took a dig at BJP leaders for criticising Congress supporting the PAGD, adding that how can they do it when the saffron party itself was sharing power in alliance with NC in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in Kargil district.

In Reasi DDC, wherein BJP has reached the halfway mark by winning seven seats, Congress and PAGD joining hands can make things difficult for the saffron organisation as of the remaining seven seats, NC has got three, JKAP (two) and one each by Congress and independent. With Congress’s chief spokesperson claiming that the independent was supported by them in the polls, BJP will have to ensure that the two JKAP members too do not go the opposition way in case of any division of votes on an issue in the DDC.

JKAP spokesperson Vikram Malhotra, however, denied that the party will support any party. “We will move in only in case where there is a possibility of our having own chairperson with the help of independents,’’ he added.