Abdullah-led PAGD heading for victory in J&K DDC polls

Farooq Abdullah-led PAGD heading for victory in J&K DDC polls

Gupkar Alliance leads on 96 seats followed, by BJP on 56

Farooq Abdullah. Credit: PTI file photo.

The Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) took a big lead over the BJP as votes were still being counted in the maiden district development council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the latest leads, the PAGD was ahead in 96 seats, followed by the BJP in 56 and Congress in 22. Others, mostly independents, were leading in 55 seats. In Jammu division, the BJP is ahead in 44 seats while the PAGD in 20 while the alliance was leading in 61 seats in Kashmir with the Saffron party ahead in three seats.

The counting for all 280 DDC constituencies – 14 each in all 20 districts of the Union Territory (UT) - began at 9 am at all district headquarters across J&K and and the process may take longer than usual because ballot papers were used instead of electronic voting machines or EVMs. The polling was held from November 28 to December 19 in eight phases with 51% voters exercising their franchise in the elections, which were largely peaceful.

The PAGD is an alliance of arch rivals, National Conference (NC) and PDP and five other parties which was formed on October 15 to work towards restoring the special status of J&K which was revoked last August. The Congress was initially a part of the PAGD but distanced itself from the alliance as the BJP targeted the opposition party for being in league with the ‘anti-national Gupkar Gang.’

The DDC polls mark the Centre’s first attempt at restoring democratic processes in the region, following the revocation of its special status and bifurcation in August 2019. In the absence of an elected government in the UT, these Councils are set to become a new unit of governance in Jammu and Kashmir.

J&K has been under the central rule since June 2018 when the BJP pulled out of the alliance government with the PDP. The special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 was revoked in August 2019 by the Parliament and it was bifurcated into the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The results of the election may be used as a sort of referendum by both political ideologies - for and against the major constitutional changes in Jammu and Kashmir.