SRINAGR: The recently-constituted Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of seven regional parties including CPM and CPI, on Saturday unanimously decided to contest the District Development Council (DDC) polls jointly in Jammu and Kashmir. The polls will be held from November 28.
The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) too on Saturday announced that it will contest the DDC polls.
The J&K election commission had recently announced the first-ever elections to DDC and by-polls of vacant panchayat seats and municipal corporations following the abrogation of Article 370 last year.
Barring national parties like CPM and CPI, regional parties had declared that they would not join polls to any institution till the restoration of statehood to J&K.
The PAGD, formed on October 15, consists of the National Conference, Peoples’ Democratic Party, Peoples’ Conference, Awami National Conference, J&K Peoples’ Movement, CPM and CPI.
The decision was conveyed to the media following a meeting in Jammu on Saturday. Alliance spokesperson Sajad Gani Lone, who was accompanied by other PAGD leaders, said alliance president Farooq Abdullah will declare the names of candidates.
However, senior NC leader and former minister Aga Ruhullah Mehdi opposed the PAGD decision to join DDC polls. Aga, an influential Shia leader in central Kashmir, tweeted: “… they are setting rules and you are playing by that. This is a deep trap you will only keep falling into.”
“The Centre wanted these mainstream leaders to join the polls,” Mehdi told TOI.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Jammu, JKPCC president GA Mir said the decision by the Congress to contest DDC polls was taken following consultations with the high command and local party leaders from different districts. Congress is the oldest party in J&K and has never stayed away from the democratic process, said Mir.
“We will not give a free run to the BJP in the DDC polls. However, we have some serious concerns regarding the conduct of the polls. There are security concerns too. These issues have been put up before the state election authorities,” he added.
“Delimitation of DDC constituencies has been uneven. At some places, constituencies are based on one-and-a-half lakh population while at others these are on a few thousand population, indicating uneven delimitation,” said Mir, adding that even the reservation criteria followed is not proper.