In a setback to the People Alliance of Gupkar declaration (PAGD), Altaf Bukhari's Apni Party won the elections to the post of chairperson of two of the three District Development Councils (DDCs) in polls held Saturday. The JKAP would be heading the DDCs in Srinagar and Shopian, while the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) won Kulgam. The PAGD alliance had a bit of fallout before the Chairman polls, with no party asking their elected member to vote from its alliance partner.
In Srinagar, JKAP candidate Aftab Malik bagged 10 votes, while his rival bagged only three votes, the officials said. In Shopian district of south Kashmir also, the Apni Party won both the chairman’s and vice-chairman’s posts. They said the JKAP’s Bilal Ahmad managed to win the vice-chairperson’s post by securing nine votes while his PDP rival Manzoor Ahmad Bhat bagged only four. The officials said JKAP candidate Bilqees Akhtar polled eight votes, while her rival candidate from the PAGD secured six. The BJP’s lone DDC member from Srinagar, Ajaz Hussain, also supported JKAP candidates for both the posts, they said.
In January, the Sajad Gani Lone-led Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference pulled out of the PAGD claiming that the party fielding the candidate on behalf of the PAGD was left to fend for itself while other constituents compounded the problem by putting up proxy candidates. According to him, the votes polled against the PAGD in the recently concluded District Development Council polls are majorly the votes cast by "proxies" of PAGD constituent parties against the official candidates. Moreover, sources report that PDP had planned to field its own candidate for upcoming polls in Baramulla.
Sources also report that there have been meetings held between the Gupkar Alliance partners prior to the DDC Chairman polls. While the PAGD did not win in the two districts, it had a reason to cheer in Kulgam, also in south Kashmir, where the CPI(M) candidate M Afzal was elected the chairperson and National Conference's Shazia Jan as vice-chairperson. The PAGD has accused BJP of luring its candidates, forcing them to join the Apni party.
The results for the J&K DDC elections awarded PAGD 110 seats - with its constituents - NC, PDP, JKPC, CPI(M) and JKPM bagging 67, 27, 8, 5, and three seats respectively. After winning 26 seats in the DDC election, Congress too has decided to support the opposition alliance. On the other hand, BJP too made inroads in the Union Territory by becoming the single-largest party with 75 seats. However, the newly formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) could not make a substantive impact gaining only 12 seats. Independents too made a major dent with 50 seats. The J&K administration held J&K's first-ever District Development Council polls in eight phases from November 28 to December 19, with a voter turnout of 51.42%.