SRI NAGAR: For the first ever time in the history of Jammu & Kashmir, the BJP opened its account in the local body elections in the Valley, making significant gains in militancy-hit districts. While its rise was facilitated by the poll boycott by the National Conference and the PDP over the controversial Article 35A issue, the fact that the Congress, which was expected to be better rooted in the Valley, failed to grab the entire political space vacated by the NC and the PDP stood out in stark contrast.
Of the 47 wards of Kulgam in south Kashmir, the BJP won eight, the Congress three and independents seven. In Pulwama district, which is a stronghold of militancy, of the 69 wards, BJP won nine and independents three. There was no contest in the rest of the wards.
In Anantnag district, of the 132 wards, the BJP won 29 while the Congress got 60 and independents 11. The BJP made gains in Ganderbal (two wards) and Budgam (five wards) districts. The Congress won 23 wards and independents 16 in Budgam while independents won 13 and Congress two in Ganderbal.
The BJP won 25 of 88 wards in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, with independents getting 17 and Congress 17. In militancy infested Bandipora district, the Congress won 27 wards, independents 10 and the BJP three.
Of the 74 wards in Srinagar municipality, independents emerged the key players by winning 53. The Congress won 16 wards, while BJP emerged victorious on four wards and separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone’s Peoples Conference won one seat. Senior Congress leader Tariq Hamid Karra’s wife Asifa Hamid Karra lost the polls from Ward No. 18, Lawaypora, of Srinagar municipality to independent candidate Fancy Jan by 18 votes.
Asifa got 501 votes while the winner Fancy got 519 votes.
The former National Conference spokesman, Junaid Mattu, who quit the party and contested the ULB polls from three wards of Srinagar municipality, won elections from all three wards, Solina, Rawalpora and Boud Dal, in Srinagar municipality. The saffron party won 12 of the 17 wards in Shopian district in south Kashmir. All its 12 candidates were elected uncontested.
In Leh, Congress swept the ULB polls, winning all 13 wards.In Kargil district, the Congress won six seats and independents won the remaining seven seats.The four-phase ULB polls in the state were held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16. The polling percentage in Kashmir was 4.27 per cent, while Jammu and Ladakh witnessed heavy voting. The two major political parties, National Conference and PDP, boycotted the polls, linking their participation with the Centre’s stand on Article 35A.