Srinagar, Oct 14: BJP has decided to contest 70 seats and support 60 independents in the Block Development Council (BDC) polls in the Kashmir valley.
At least 1065 candidates are in fray for 316 blocks in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of 316 BDCs, 148 are in Jammu, 137 in Kashmir and 31 in Ladakh. The elections are to be held for 130 blocks in Kashmir. The polls are scheduled to be held on October 24.
A BJP leader said that party has decided to give party symbols to only 70 candidates. “We will support 60 independents. Several candidates have refused to contest the elections on the party symbol. Instead they have decided to contest as independents,” he said.
The BJP leader however exuded confidence that independents will rejoin the party after the polls. “The candidates who are contesting as independents are wary of BJP. They do not want to shoulder the burden of BJP post abrogation of Article 370”, he said
BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur said the party would support 60 “like minded” candidates who would contest as independents. “They (60 candidates) are with us but will contest as independents. Our 15 candidates have already won uncontested in Kashmir,” Thakur said.
The BJP is the only party which has been carrying election related activities both in Kashmir and Jammu.
The multiphase Panchayat elections were held on nonparty basis in November-December last year.
However, the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party had boycotted the polls in protest against the Centre’s move to abrogate Article 35A. Congress, which had contested Tier I of Panchayat polls, has boycotted the BDC polls citing the ongoing clampdown in Kashmir.
All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Association, (AJKPA) an apex body of elected Panches and Sarpanches has decided not to align with any political party and contest BDC elections as independents.
“How is it viable to fight the second tier of Panchayat polls on party basis when the first tier was contested on non-party lines? The institution of Panchayati Raj is being politicized. There is a political motive behind the decision so that a particular political reaps benefits,” said Shafiq Mir, chairman AKPA.