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J&K DDC polls: PAGD maintains lead as BJP opens account in Srinagar

Counting of votes began today to decide the fate of 2,178 candidates in the fray for the maiden District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said here.

People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration led by MP Farooq Abdullah so far has a lead over the BJP.

This is the first election in Jammu and Kashmir since its special status was scrapped and it was downgraded to a Union Territory.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opened its account in Srinagar as its youth leaer Aijaz Hussain won the seat in Balhama on the outskirts of the city.

In South Kashmir’s Anantnag district National Conference, Congress and independents are leading at two places each while PDP at one. In Kulgam district, NC is leading at 5, CPIM at 4, and independent 2. PDP and Apni party at leading at one place each.

Here are the trends till noon.

The process will bring to an end the eight-phase polling process which was spread over 25 days. There are 280 DDC seats — 14 in each of the 20 districts of the union territory.

The polling was held over eight phases beginning November 28 and ending on December 19 as 51 per cent of the 57 lakh eligible voters exercised their franchise in the elections, which were largely peaceful.

Seven Kashmir-centric mainstream political parties, including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, contested the polls in an alliance under the banner of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) formed for the restoration of Article 370.

The Congress was initially a part of the PAGD but distanced itself from the alliance as the BJP targeted the opposition party for being in league with the ‘Gupkar Gang’. Although the Congress went alone in the last seven phases, it is widely believed that its understanding with the PAGD remains intact.

The DDC election is being seen as a fight between the BJP and other political parties in the region. The elections to this third tier of Panchayati Raj system were held for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir and were the first mass polls since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.