But for Hajin-A and Drugmulla constituencies—the first-ever DDC polls have been completed in all respects to complete the 3-tier Panchayat elections. The elections saw coming together on one platform of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration which includes among seven parties arch-rivals National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The amalgam, formed to fight for Article 370 restoration, has consolidated votes in most of the 10 districts in the Valley and three districts of the Pir Panjal and the Chenab in the Jammu division. The grouping won at least 110 seats out of a total of 2780 seats while the BJP emerged victorious on 75 seats. Given the verdict, the PAGD and the Congress are likely to have their chairmen in around 13 districts out of a total of 20 districts while the BJP could be leading upto six or seven. The independent who have won 50 of seats can surely swing some districts in favour of the BJP or the PAGD.
It was the first political exercise in the erstwhile state since August 5, 2019 when the government of India headed by NDA effectively revoked the special status and downgraded the Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. While the elections were about local bodies, both the BJP and the PAGD turned it into a sought of referendum on those decisions.
The PAGD was reluctant at the start to fight polls as some quarters had expressed apprehensions that this would normalise the revocation of the special status. However the alliance’s decision belied such expectations and its participation was a bid to reclaim the political space, cautioning that doing otherwise would enable the BJP and its allied parties to fill in the vacuum and control the levers of power. While the DDCs have become the kind of mini-assemblies and had become important for the alliance to control these to enhance its political clout. It also argued that strengthening its political presence at the district level will add force to its position that Article 370 was revoked without consulting people of J&K. The role of the DDCs is profoundly significant. It led to the restart of the political process after a hiatus of sixteen months. While political activities demand more space, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha should be praised for holding an election whose results are seen as a fair reflection of the popular will. Also, and importantly too, the DDCs are for the development of the erstwhile state and they need to perform their primary task.