NEW DELHI: An coalition of Kashmiri parties opposed to India’s annexation last year by the state was poised to sweep local body polls against the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and said it was a verdict to overturn the arbitrary rule of New Delhi in the city, reports said.
In order to settle the Kashmir conflict, the Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Coalition for Gupkar Declaration, which was headed for a huge win in local polls, favoured talks between India and Pakistan.
Regional parties surged ahead in the valley in the first ever District Development Council (DDC) polls conducted in Kashmir, while the BJP retained an upper hand in the Jammu region.
The Gupkar alliance, a coalition of seven mainstream J&K-based parties including rivals National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Mehbooba Mufti, was ahead in 114 seats in recent leads; the BJP led in 72 seats. At 26, Congress was ahead.
The BJP is leading in the Jammu area with 69 seats while the Gupkar alliance is winning 35. The regional grouping leads in a mammoth of 79 seats in Kashmir, while the BJP is ahead in three.
In eight stages over a span of 25 days, votes were taken in 280 seats, 14 in each of the 20 districts of the union territory. Thirteen district councils are likely to be won by the Gupkar alliance and Congress, while the BJP and its allies are expected to rule over six districts.
But on Gupkar Lane, where Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti, both former Chief Ministers, have residences, there were no celebrations. None of them were lobbying for their applicants.
They say that they were not permitted to campaign and confined in security enclosures by their candidates, an assertion refuted by the central government.
The winners include PDP youth president Waheed Para, who was detained shortly after he submitted his nomination papers from Pulwama in the Kashmir Valley by the National Investigative Agency for suspected ties with militants.
The Compliance Directorate is investigating Farooq Abdullah for money-laundering charges connected to the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association. His properties have recently been annexed by the agency, including two houses in Srinagar and Jammu.
In protest against the major constitutional amendments, the Gupkar Alliance was established on 5 August last year, in which Article 370 on the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abolished and the state was converted into two union territories.
Many of its founders, such as Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others, were arrested as part of the center’s ongoing security crackdown in the valley held shortly after the reforms. In March, the Abdullahs were released, while in October, Mehbooba Mufti was freed after more than a year.