Kashmir Indepth

Pol parties seek immediate formation of DDC in J&K fearing for ‘horse trading’

Ishtiyaq Ahmad 
Srinagar Jan 14: After the District Development Council (DDC) elections were held, various political parties of the valley are seeking immediate formation of DDCs, fearing for horse trading in Jammu and Kashmir.
The first DDC elections were recently held in J&K for which results were announced on December 22.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) which comprises seven political parties including National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party won 110 seats followed by BJP-75, Congress-26.
It was expected that PAGD + Congress would secure DDC in 13 districts where they would have their chairmen, BJP in six districts and there was uncertainty on Srinagar district where no party had a clear majority.
However, what has been seen is that there are many winning candidates who contested on NC and PDP tickets but have joined the Jammu Kashmir Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari.
“We want immediate formation of DDC in J&K. The PAGD fear horse trading by our opponents,” a senior National Conference leader told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).  “The political parties should respect the mandate given by the people. We (PAGD) got highest seats in J&K still some parties want to indulge in horse trading,” he added.
Parties associated with PAGD fear they may lose chairmenship in few districts if there is further delay in formation of DDC.
Last week, a delegation led by senior National Conference leader Devender Singh Rana and comprising of former ministers Surjit Singh Slathia, Ajay Kumar Sadhotra and Mushtaq Bukhari met Lieutenant Governor Manoj Singh and urged that District Development Councils are constituted at the earliest.
Similarly, CPI (M) Leader, M Y Tarigami who is also part of PAGD also met with the Lt Governor, demanded that the councils be constituted at the earliest for the benefit of the masses.
Two winning candidates of National Conference and PDP from South Kashmir’s Shopian district recently joined J&K Apni Party putting PAGD in a difficult situation.
Similarly, the J&K Apni Party is also trying to capture power in Srinagar DDC along with Independents. In Srinagar, Apni Party has three winning candidates and one BJP victorious candidate. While PAGD candidates emerged winners on three seats.
The Apni Party is also eying on Bandipora district where PAGD is short of a majority and needed support of Independents to form DDC.
Each DDC will have 14 elected representatives from each district. The elected members will appoint a chairperson and a vice-chairperson of the DDC from among themselves. A chairperson will need support of eight winning candidates.
Senior National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah has alleged that money, muscle, threats and coercion were being used to facilitate horse-trading and defections.
“Shame on this administration for playing partisan politics to curry favour with the ruling party & their stooges. These parties couldn’t win seats so now they are using money, muscle. threats and government coercion to make up the numbers,” he alleged recently.
He said administration and police was facilitating horse trading by pressuring elected DDC candidates to join Apni Party.
He also questioned why anti-defection law was not implemented in DDCs.
Similar allegations have been made by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.
While Altaf Bukhari recently told a news agency that newly elected members were joining his party without any pressure.
Bukhari has said, “If anyone of them have change of heart and want to join Apni Party, why should we stop them.”
The PAGD, which is fighting for the restoration of Article 370 provisions, has put up an impressive show in the elections despite considerable odds. (KINS)

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