NEW DELHI: With Congress in a position to be king-maker in as many as six districts, the party leadership has indicated that it may lend its support to the Gupkar alliance in the election of chairpersons in the District Development Councils in Jammu and Kashmir.
As per final results, the PAGD – comprising chiefly national conference and PDP – is short of numbers in Baramulla, Bandipur and Shopian in Kashmir and in Rajouri, Kishtwar, Ramban in Jammu region. However, with the support of Congress, which has won a few constituencies in these districts, the anti-BJP alliance is in a position to win the chairperson’s post. Here, Congress support will boost the opposition combine, which includes CPM, against BJP which is banking on independents to win control of DDCs that are otherwise out of its reach.
Congress contested the DDC elections separately after facing uncomfortable questions over controversial remarks of Gupkar alliance leaders. But party sources said the mandate is against BJP and its policy anulling the statehood of J&K and reducing it to a mere Union Territory. J&K Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir called it a vote against BJP’s injustice to J&K.
Congress sources said the party is likely to tie up with PAGD wherever it was necessary. However, the party did not make an official statement on the issue and sources said AICC in-charge Rajani Patil was in talks with local leaders. AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi gave the hint by saying that between BJP and PAGD, “Congress cannot at any cost support BJP”.
The reason for Congress to contest separately from PAGD were statements made by PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. With a controversy arising over her remarks about not wanting to hold the tricolour as also her call for restoration of Article 370, Congress chose to steer clear of the grand combine and contested alone. It has fared poorly in both the regions.
While the broad contours of its future tilt in DDC polls is known, Congress believes that the road ahead may still be uncertain given the slow decision-making on the issue of DDC chairpersons’ election. One key imponderable is the “reservation” of the top DDC post. Mir said there were around several categories for reservation – like SC, SC women, ST, ST women – and the government will decide which chairperson’s post will be reserved for which category. “There is a concern that the government may reserve the posts in such a way that it will benefit BJP,” he alleged, adding that this should have been done before the elections and not left for post result phase.