Following its decision to contest District Development Council (DDC) elections alongside People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), Congress has decided to contest 11 seats from Kashmir and 13 seats from Jammu slated to go for contest in 1st phase of the polls.
First ever DDC elections for newly carved out 280 DDC constituencies, following delimitation exercise—are scheduled to take place from November 28 in eight phases, simultaneously with 13241 Panchayat and 228 Urban Local Bodies election for vacant seats. Two main political parties NC and PDP had boycotted the poll process last year. The elections would culminate on December 19, following which counting would be held on December 22. The last date of filing nomination papers of DDC constituencies slated to go for polls in first phase was November 12.
The party's J&K president GA Mir said the decision of the party to contest on these seats has been "well thought out" and "chalked out" in a way that its alliance with PAGD for DDC polls won't be affected.
The party said in Kashmir it is contesting on 11 DDC seats slated to go for polls in first phase including Larnoo Kokernag in Anantnag, Keller 2nd in Shopian, Achgozee in Pulwama, Tangdhar segment in Kupwara where other three segments are also headed for polls in first phase. Besides, from Ganderbal the party has filed its candidate from Gund segment though it said "it is willing to cede the seat for NC if need arises". The party is also contesting on six segments of Srinagar district slated to go for polls in first phase.
In Jammu, Congress said it is contesting on Bani segment, two segments of Akhnoor. In Udhampur, the party is contesting on two DDC segments including Lathi, Bafliaz in Poonch, and in Reasi on one segment—all slated for polls in the first phase.
The party said it is contesting on three segments in Ramban, while in Doda the party is contesting on two seats including Balisa and Changa.
Besides, the party is also contesting Kishtwar's Madwa segment, and has deputed its party people with an authority letter of the party to its candidate through road, following closure of Simthan road.
"Wherever we have felt that the percentage of results will be better, we have fielded a candidate or for that matter we have asked other parties to field their candidates. We have kept room for all this in it," Mir told the Greater Kashmir.
He said the party has given its candidates mandate to contest on those seats as well, where parties under PAGD have also fielded their candidate.
"The thing is candidate from our party or PAGD should only win. It would be a friendly contest. The point is we are contesting this election with parties to keep certain elements in check," said Mir.
Referring to the Banihal area, where two DDC segments are slated to go for polls in first phase, Mir said: "National Conference was of the view that we should leave both the seats for them. However, we neither agreed nor refused their demand. In goodwill, instead we told them we can leave five segments for them which are slated to go for polls in next phases from Banihal."
He said this was done to "ensure that space is not ceded to people who are for divisive politics, and overall structure of an alliance with PAGD for polls won't get affected".
Mir said formula was devised in such a way with PAGD that it was decided that seat sharing would be done on the basis of performance of political parties in 2014 J&K Assembly elections. However, he said in DDC polls "respective candidate's foothold" and "popularity" are the two things Congress kept stressing on to field a candidate.