Srinagar/Jammu, Dec 22 (PTI) The seven-party Gupkar alliance led by Farooq Abdullah was ahead in the seat tally in the maiden District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir by winning or leading in 112 seats out of 280 on Tuesday, followed by the BJP which had won 52 seats, including three in the Kashmir valley for the first time, and was frontrunner in 18.
The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has bagged 82 seats and is leading in 30. Thirty-eight Independents, mainly disgruntled leaders from all political parties, have been declared winners and the same number are leading in other seats.
The Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) put up a dismal performance by bagging seven seats and leading in another five. The Congress has so far won 19 seats and is leading in nine other council seats.
The eight-phase DDC polls, which began on November 28, is also the first election after Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 was revoked last year and it was reorganised into a Union Territory. In the election, 140 seats each in the Jammu and Kashmir regions went to polls.
The trends in most seats in the DDC elections are in accordance with expectations - the BJP maintained its strength in the Jammu division while the PAGD, which includes regional heavyweights the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), is ahead in Kashmir, besides Pir Panchal and the Chenab Valley regions of Jammu.
A day ahead of counting of votes, authorities had detained several PDP and second-rung NC leaders, including Naeem Akhtar, Sartaj Madni, Peer Mansoor and Hilal Ahmad Lone. No reason was given for the detentions. Senior PDP leader Waheed Parra, who is at present in jail after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him in a terror funding case, won from Pulwama-1 and polled 1,323 votes against BJP's Sajjad Ahmed Raina who polled only 321 votes.
The BJP had something to cheer about in the Kashmir Valley as three of its candidates, Aijaz Hussain, Aijaz Ahmad Khan and Minha Lateef won from Khonmoh-II seat in Srinagar, Tulail seat in Bandipora district and Kakpora in Pulwama respectively.
This is for the first time the BJP has registered a win in the Valley while facing regional heavyweights like the NC and the PDP.
Highlighting the wins in the Kashmir Valley, BJP general secretary Vibodh Gupta congratulated victorious party candidates, especially those who had won in Kashmir, and said the people of the Valley have exhibited their faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
'The people of Kashmir exhibited their faith in Hon'ble PM Narendra Modi's vision of Naya Kashmir, and sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas,' Gupta, who is also the party's in-charge for Kashmir, said.
He said the victories mark a 'change of wave' in the Valley and added that the maiden victory in Kashmir 'speak of two stories -- one of a tough fight by the BJP, marking the beginning of a new era in the Valley, and the other of conveying a strong message to Gupkar Gang that the end of their communal and divisive politics is near.' Senior BJP leader and Union minister Jitendra Singh said, “Three BJP candidates have won from Srinagar. It is testimony to the fact that people of Jammu and Kashmir believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the development of the Union Territory.
He said the BJP has emerged as a pan-Jammu and Kashmir party after the DDC elections results and it is acceptable to the people of the region.
However, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and NC vice president Omar Abdullah said the results of the DDC elections have made it clear that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted for the Gupkar alliance and rejected the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370.
Abdullah was quick enough to counter the BJP's claims, tweeting, 'I understand the temptation to over play the 3 seats the BJP has won in the valley but why underplay the 35 wins/leads of the @JKPAGD in Jammu province.” 'We aren't Kashmir based parties, we are political parties with strong support in both Kashmir AND Jammu,' the NC leader tweeted Reacting to the results, Abdullah told PTI that the results and emerging trends of the DDC polls should be an eye-opener for the BJP and its 'proxy political party'. He was apparently referring the JKAP.
“Today's DDC results have made it clear that people of J&K voted en masse for @JKPAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370. They have overwhelmingly supported @JKPAGD which stands for restoration of J&Ks special status,” the PDP president said.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the DDC election results show that the voters of Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its 'misguided' Kashmir policy.
'Undeterred by the denial of democratic rights, the voters of the Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its misguided Kashmir policy. I compliment the voters for their courage and resolve,' he said on Twitter.
Chidambaram also tweeted, 'Even in the Jammu region, a significant number of voters have rejected the divisive and polarising politics of the BJP'. 'Both the Congress and the Gupkar Alliance have stood up to the BJP and may win as many seats as the BJP. That is a good sign,' he said.
On August 5 last year, the Centre had revoked the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
BJP’s former minister Shakti Raj Parihar was trailing from both his seats in Doda district, while former ministers Aijaz Khan (JKAP) and Abdul Gani Malik (NC) emerged victorious from Thuroo constituency and Mahore constituency in Reasi district.
Among the prominent loser from Kashmir was Naseer Ahmad Mir, son of state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir. He lost to an independent candidate Peer Shahbaz Ahmad. PTI SSB/TAS MIJ SKL ANB ANB