DDC Polls: PAGD leads in Kashmir, BJP in Jammu

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Jammu, December 22: The National Conference president Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration is heading for a big victory during the maiden DDC elections, the first major electoral exercise in the Union Territory after Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status and the statehood.

While PAGD surged ahead in Kashmir, BJP maintained an upper hand in Jammu region. 

In the latest leads, the Gupkar alliance — a grouping of seven mainstream J&K-based parties including rivals National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – is ahead in 114 seats; the BJP is leading in 72 seats. The Congress is ahead in 26.

In Jammu Province, the BJP is ahead in 69 seats while the Gupkar alliance is winning in 35. In Kashmir, the regional grouping is leading in a mammoth 79 seats while the BJP is ahead in three.

Voting was held in 280 seats – 14 in each of the 20 districts of the union territory — in eight phases over a period of 25 days. The Gupkar alliance and the Congress are likely to win 13 district councils while the BJP and its allies are set to take six districts.

But there were no celebrations on Gupkar road where Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, all former Chief Ministers, have homes. None of them campaigned for their candidates.

They allege that their candidates were not allowed to campaign and confined in security enclosures – an allegation that has been denied by the central government.

Among today’s winners is PDP youth president Waheed Para, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency for alleged links with militants soon after he filed his nomination papers from Pulwama in Kashmir Valley.

Farooq Abdullah is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate for money-laundering allegations linked to the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association. The agency recently attached his properties, including two houses in Srinagar and Jammu.

The Gupkar Alliance was formed in protest against the massive constitutional changes on August 5 last year, in which Article 370 on special status to Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated and the state was turned into two union territories. Many of its leaders, like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others were detained soon after the changes as part of the centre’s unprecedented security crackdown in J&K. The Abdullahs were released in March while Mehbooba Mufti was freed after over a year in October.

Saffron BJP emerged as got landmark majority in District Development Councils in pre-dominantly Hindu inhabited Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur districts, besides Muslim majority Doda district in Chenab Valley region.

It emerged as the single largest party by reaching the half way mark by winning seven of the 14 DDC constituencies in Reasi district as well, but its winning spree was halted by National Conference and independents in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Pir Panjal region, besides Ramban and Kishtwar districts of Chenab Valley adjoining Kashmir. Its ex-legislator Gharu Ram were among the winners in Jammu district, while Juhi Manhas, wife of its former Ramnagar MLA R S Pathani won from Khoon constituency of Udhampur district.

Similarly, Congress former minister was set to get elected from Manjakote, former PDP minister Zulkikar’s wife Zubeda Begum was trailing from an independent in Rajouri’s Budhal Old A constituency. In Reasi district, former minister Ajaz Khan got elected as JKAP nominee from Thruoo constituency, while his brother and former MLA Mumtaz Khan, also a JKAP candidate, lost the election in Mahore. Former minister Jagjivan Lal got elected in Reasi as NC nominee.

Of the 120 results declared in Jammu division so far, BJP got 66 seats, followed by NC (18), independents (15), Congress (14), JKAP and JKNPP (two each), besides PDP and BSP (one seat each).

NC could win only one seat each in Jammu and Samba district, JKNPP two in Udhampur and BSP (one) in Kathua. Congress, however, could not open its account in Jammu, Samba, Kathua and Udhampur districts. 

In what may be called rejection of extreme right wing political organisations, Charanjit Singh, former MLA and father in law of IkkJutt Jammu chairman Ankur Sharma and Kanta Andotra, wife of former minister and Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party founder Choudhary Lal Singh who had fallen apart with BJP over the issue of CBI enquiry into the gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old Bakarwal girl, too lost elections in Kathua district.

In Rajouri district, where the saffron party was leading in three places, it was set to lose Nowshera to PDP which incidently happens to be the home constituency of UT BJP president Ravinder Raina and who got elected to Legislative Assembly from there in 2014. 

Though in Doda district, BJP managed to get majority in the DDC, its former MLA and ex-minister Shakti Raj Parihar lost from both the Marmat and Gundna constituencies.

In Jammu also, while it won nine seats and was leading in three more, it lost to an independent in its bastion Marh who was supported by its estranged former minister and ex-MLA from the area Sukhnandan Choudhary.