Shock for Cong, NC, PDP: 1382 join fray for BDC elections

NC, PDP to stay away, cite K-situation
Kupwara, Baramulla top in candidates; Jammu 3rd

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Oct 9: Notwithstanding the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Congress, People’s Conference, CPM and other Kashmir based political parties dissociating from the process of elections to chairpersons of 310 Block Development Councils (BDCs), an impressive number of 1382 candidates have jumped into the fray as nominations closed today, springing a major surprise and giving snub to the parties which refused to join the electoral fray on the ground of alleged restrictions and detentions.
The Panchayat members including Sarpanchs and Panchs, who were eligible for contesting the elections to the BDC Chairpersons, gave thumbs up to the electoral exercise for second tier of Panchayats in Kashmir valley too as Kupwara district led 22 districts of the State with highest number of 131 candidates followed by Baramulla 110. Jammu district was third with 105 candidates while significant number of 65 candidates joined the fray in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.  Click here to watch video
Pollsters and certain vested interests who had been predicting that the BDC election exercise will turn out to be futile in the absence of major parties like PDP, NC and Congress, were virtually shocked by 1382 candidates taking the plunge into electoral battle for 310 BDCs. Much to the surprise of Congress, five candidates filed their nomination papers in Jammu district on the party mandate.
In Ladakh division too, which will become a Union Territory on October 31 alongwith J&K, Kargil district outclassed Leh in number of candidates. While 68 candidates joined the electoral contest in Kargil district, only 48 candidates filed their papers in Leh.
Out of 1382 candidates, 751 filed papers in Jammu, 515 in Kashmir and 116 in Ladakh.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar told the Excelsior that all arrangements have been made for the BDC elections scheduled to be held in 310 blocks.
“All necessary security and other arrangements for the elections were being made,” Kumar said.
The CEO said 1382 candidates have filed their nomination papers in 22 districts of the State for 310 BDCs for which the elections will be held on October 24.
Kumar said highest number of 131 candidates have filed the nomination papers for the elections to the BDC chairpersons in Kupwara district. He added that scrutiny of nomination papers will be held tomorrow and the candidates can withdraw their nomination papers till October 11.
Out of 105 candidates who joined the fray in Jammu district, 79 were Independents, 20 from BJP and five from Congress. However, the Congress today announced boycott of the elections.
Ninety-seven candidates filed their nomination papers in Kathua, 95 in Rajouri, 94 in Doda, 92 in Poonch, 56 in Kishtwar, 51 in Ramban, 54 in Reasi, 66 in Udhampur and 41 in Samba.
In Kashmir valley’s Bandipora district, 43 candidates filed their nomination papers while the number was 37 in Ganderbal, eight in Srinagar, 69 in Budgam, 18 in Pulwama, 11 in Shopian and 23 in Kulgam.
Meanwhile, the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) today decided to stay away from the process of Block Development Council (BDC) elections blaming the circumstances created by the Government in which their party presidents were even unable to sign the mandate and finalize the candidates.
“The Government didn’t create political conditions for any party to participate in any democratic exercise, the least required for the premier political parties like ours to select nominees for 310 block candidates, which required detailed exercise at block, district and provincial level and thereafter the Parliament Board,” National Conference senior leader and party’s provincial president, Devender Singh Rana told the Excelsior.
He said in the given situation, many of our block and districts presidents in Kashmir province were under detention and the general secretary (Ali Mohammad Sagar), who had to put up mandate before the Parliamentary Board is also under detention at the SKICC. In fact, he added, nearly 60 percent Parliamentary Board members of the NC are under detention.
“Our president (Dr Farooq Abdullah) who had to sign the mandate has been detained under PSA,” Rana said and asked: “how could the NC participate in the elections even if it wanted to”?
He said the National Conference has always been strong supporter of democracy and democratic rights and had been pioneer in strengthening Panchayati Raj System in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The NC would never shirk from any exercise to empower democracy strengthening at grass roots but somewhere it seems that the Government wasn’t inclined to allow genuine participation in the elections. Also the situation on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir for conducting election exercise of this magnitude at this juncture can’t be justified when primary objective of the Government should have been to reach out to the people and win their hearts and minds,” Rana said.
PDP senior leader Ved Mahajan said the PDP is not contesting the elections as their leaders have no communication channel with the party president Mehbooba Mufti since August 5 when special Constitutional provisions of the State were scrapped and the State was bifurcated into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
“The party president had to finalize the mandate or give authority to senior party leaders for finalization of mandate. Not only our president but all senior leaders are either under house arrest or in temporary jails. In such a situation, who will finalize the candidates and give mandate”?, Mahajan asked.
In present scenario, he said, the PDP wasn’t able to contest the BDC elections.
Meanwhile, All J&K Panchayat Conference chairman Anil Sharma said that his organization has fielded candidates for the BDC elections in various blocks of Jammu region as Independent nominees