A confederation of political parties against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies in occupied Kashmir has won a majority of seats in local elections. The elections are the first to have taken place in a year, ever since India forced direct control over disputed Kashmir, revoking its semi autonomous status.
The alliance, a strong advocate of self government, won 112 out of a total of 280 seats in District Development Council elections, which were held in a stretched eight-phase process from 28 November to 19 December. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 74 seats while independent candidates won 49 seats.
Kashmir’s former top elected official and an alliance leader, Omar Abdullah, told reporters that the election results signified Kashmir’s outright rejection of Modi’s constitutional policies in the region, adding that BJP had thrown “the entire weight of the government of India behind their effort to defeat us.”
P. Chidambaram, the Congress party’s top leader said, ““Undeterred by the denial of democratic rights, the voters of the Kashmir Valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its misguided Kashmir policy.”
His party has won 26 seats.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said, “With this defeat, I don’t think BJP govt will conduct assembly elections here anytime soon. They would have announced the polls by now had they believed in democracy. So, we have time to strengthen our party.”
However, Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Finance said, “The combined vote share of the Independent candidates and the BJP amounts to a little over 52%. This is a clear indication that the Gupkar Gang has lost its credibility and the trust of the people.”
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) is an alliance of seven parties in Jammu and Kashmir that seeks the restoration of the state’s former special status, which was revoked by the Indian government in August last year.