The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) swept the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls by winning 110 seats, while the BJP emerged as the single largest party by getting 75 seats after securing the largest vote share in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday.
The results of two constituencies – one each in Bandipora and Kupwara districts of north Kashmir – are still awaited as counting of votes has been deferred there till further orders, they said.
The counting of votes for the 280 DDC constituencies – 14 each in 20 districts – started on Tuesday morning after the peaceful culmination of the eight-phase election from November 28 to December 19. This was the first democratic exercise in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into union territories last year.
Out of the 278 seats for which results have been declared by the J-K Election Commission so far, besides the PAGD and the BJP, Independent candidates have won 50, Congress 26, Apni Party 12, PDF and the National Panthers Party two each and the BSP one.
Two Pakistan-administered Kashmir nationals (PaK), who are married to former militants, are among the contestants from the Dragmulla constituency in Kupwara and Hajin-A in Bandipora and the state Election Commissioner has directed the returning officers concerned to defer the counting of votes in the two constituencies till further orders, the officials said.
In the Darhal constituency of Rajouri district, BJP's Mohammad Iqbal Malik defeated National Conference's Parvez Rashid by 3,748 votes, taking the total number of BJP seats to 75.
The PAGD had won six seats, the Congress and the BJP three each while one seat each had gone to the Apni Party and an independent candidate in the district.
With regard to the Balakote constituency in Poonch district, the seat went into the kitty of independent candidate Massarat Jabin, who won by a margin of 670 votes over her PDP rival Afshan Aftab. She became the eighth independent candidate to register a win from the constituency and overall 50 in the union territory.
Now, Poonch district had the highest number of eight independents, followed by seven in Srinagar. The rest of the six seats in Poonch district were shared by Congress (four) and National Conference (two).
Among the PAGD constituents, the National Conference won the highest number of 67 seats, followed by PDP (27), People's Conference (eight), CPI(M) five and J-K Peoples Movement (three), getting a total share of over 3.94 lakh votes together.
The BJP, on the other hand, won 75 seats, including three in Kashmir, after getting a total of 4.87 lakh votes. However, it only managed to get a clear majority in five districts – Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Samba and Doda and enjoys an edge in Reasi district – all in the Jammu region.
The PAGD managed a good show in Pir Panchal and Chenab valley's Kishtwar and Ramban districts, besides its candidate from the National Conference winning one seat each in Jammu and Samba districts.
The Congress polled a total of over 1.39 votes, while the Independents got 1.71 lakh votes.
Union minister Anurag Thakur, BJP's incharge of the DDC elections in J-K, claimed that voters in the union territory rejected the PAGD and extended wholehearted support to the BJP, which had also won three seats for the first time in Kashmir valley, opening the doors for the party.
"The DDC elections were held in a free, fair and peaceful atmosphere, for which the election machinery, local administration, police and other security agencies deserve all praises," the Minister of State for Finance told reporters at BJP headquarters here.
Thakur, who camped in Jammu during most of the elections and extensively campaigned for the party candidates throughout the union territory, hailed the public for their participation in the democratic exercise.
"Attempts were made to threaten them, there were talks of terrorism and youth picking up guns but people participated enthusiastically in the elections. Hundreds jumped into the fray, while lakhs voted, leading to the successful conclusion of the exercise," he said, adding that it was the "win" for the people and the democracy.
More than 51 per cent polling was recorded in the elections, which was far better than the previous polls.
"Despite various opposition parties coming together under the banner of the Gupkar gang, they failed to give a challenge to the BJP We won 75 seats which is highest by any party and got the vote share of 38.74 per cent, which is more than PAGD that only got 32.96 per cent," he said.
Asked about his reaction to two BJP former ministers Sham Lal Choudhary and Shakti Raj Parihar losing the elections from different seats in Jammu region, he said the party will deliberate on it.