Initial reports regarding counting of votes for District Development Council (DDC) polls suggested that the BJP was doing well in most of the Jammu region. As also overall in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir.
In Kashmir, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) was collectively ahead of the BJP, the Congress as also independents. Of course, independents also need to be mentioned as in Srinagar district, seven out of 14 (7/14) were won by them! Overall, Independents were placed third leading in 50 seats.
The BJP won Khanmoh (Srinagar) where its candidate Aijaz Hussain, of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), won. His victory is significant as this is being portrayed as acceptance of the saffron party in the Kashmir Valley in some pockets. The party candidates also won one segment each in Bandipora and Kupwara districts.
In Jammu district, the BJP candidates were ahead of their rivals in 11/14 segments, with National Conference (NC) candidates ahead in two segments and an Independent in one. Two former MLAs of the BJP, who contested these elections in Jammu, were victorious. Another former MLA, Gharu Ram, also won on a BJP ticket, though he was a Congress legislator earlier.
Around 6 pm, the BJP was ahead in 76, the National Conference in 64, Independents in 50 (overall placed third), PDP and Congress 26 each, Apni Party in 8, People’s Conference of Sajad Lone in 7, CPM 5, JK Peoples Movement in 3, PDF, BSP and Awami National Conference (ANC) in one each. So far, trends for 268 out of 278 segments were available, with counting stopped by the election authorities in two segments of Drugmulla and Hajin A.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Mehbooba Mufti was, as expected, the heaviest loser. Its count of 26/280 was far, far lower than 28/87 it had scored in 2014 legislative assembly elections. Its candidate, Wahid Para, in jail presently for his alleged links with Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) terrorists, was a winner.
No counting was being done in two DDC segments of Hajin A and Drugmulla in Kupwara due to doubts about the nationality of two women candidates. In Drugmulla, an independent candidate Samia Sadaf was of Pakistani descent (from Muzaffarabad). Similarly, one candidate in Hajin A segment, Shazia Aslam, a woman married to a surrendered militant Mohammad Phapoo, also hails from Muzaffarabad.
It is not clear as to how these women, of Pakistani descent, could contest in an election in India without first acquisition of Indian citizenship legitimately. Incidentally, at present, there is no legitimate route available to them for becoming an Indian. Officially, nothing beyond withholding the counting has been said so far.
It is most likely that the elections will have to be held again in these two segments after cancellation of their candidature. No official explanation has been given so far by the election authorities.