Decoding DDC elections in Jammu and Kashmir

Backdrop is Akhnoor Fort.
  • The DDC election results in the Union Territory of J&K are analysed.

The much awaited peoples’ verdict for elections to the District Development Councils (DDCs), conducted after the reorganisation of the erstwhile J&K state and abrogation of Article 370, is out. 


The DDC elections were held J&K for the first time. DDC are for rural areas of the district since urban areas have municipalities. Each district is divided into 14 territorial constituencies. Members of DDC elect chairman and vice chairman. DDC acts as the district planning committee and replace the District Development Boards which was a nominated body.   


The results have proved that people of UT of J&K have faith in democracy and are as much interested in development as people across India.


The results coincided with the onset of Chille-Kalan, the spine-chilling coldest part of the winters. The status quo lobby hoped that people would not venture out and that would be construed as a display of anger against the Central government but their dreams came to naught. The lobby forgot their history of political and ideological differences. Instead they joined hands to demand restoration of Article 370 and special status.


The people’s verdict signals ignoring narratives of alienation, loss of confidence, accusations of change in demography, cheating and betrayal. It is a defeat of communal and hate politics practised by the Kashmir-centric parties and portrayal of Bharatiya Janata Party as a “party of Hindus. Here are the results. 


          DDC Poll Results December 2020












Gupkar Alliance


    National Conf




















     To be declared







Note that-

1. The National Conference won 24 of the 67 seats in border districts of Ramban, Kishtwar, and Rajouri in Jammu region.  


2. Independents won 50 seats, more than PDP’s 27. 


3. Among the alliance members PDP has won 27, People Conference 8, People Movement 3, CPM 5, PDF 2, Congress 26 and the newly launched JK Apni Party bagged 12. Two seats were won by the Panthers Party and BSP has won one.


Party wise vote share is BJP 25%, NC 16%, INC 14%, PDP 4% and Independents 18%. Note that Congress vote share is 14% compared to PDP’s 4% but Congress got 26 seats and PDP 27. 


The seven party Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) was formed, under the chairmanship of Dr Farooq Abdullah, with the objective of restoration of Article 370 and return of statehood. These parties had, individually, earlier refused to participate in the Panchayat and BDC elections. Later they stated that they would not participate in any election till their demand of restoration of 370 were met. This was followed by an announcement that all orders/ statutes declared after 05 August 2019 were illegal and would not be recognised by them.  


Realising that they have gone too far and ran the risk of becoming irrelevant in mainstream politics, which may lead to they being labelled as Hurriyat-2, they announced their participation in DDC elections but as an alliance.


The Congress wanted to piggy back on the alliance but the Central unit of the party put a lid on their hopes announcing that it was not part of the Gupkar Alliance. However, the local unit had different plans. It portrayed to the people of Jammu its adherence to the diktats of party high command hoping that it could win some seats in Hindu majority districts. But it failed to fool the people who had read their mind well leading to its total washout in these districts.


As soon as the results were announced the cat was let out of the bag by none other than the Chief Spokesperson of the party. He said, “We were part of the alliance. Where ever Congress has won it is with the help of alliance and wherever alliance has won, it is with the help of Congress.” The usual Congress tactics of opportunistic politics and sharing the spoils of power with limited numbers. 


Incidentally, NC has replaced Congress as number two party in Jammu region.


Despite the opposition uniting against the BJP in both Jammu and Kashmir regions, the party contested the elections vigorously. It left no stone unturned to retain its clout in Jammu region but also worked tirelessly to strengthen its base in Kashmir Valley.


Though Lotus is the state flower of J&K and the BJP’s election symbol (grows in abundance in Kashmir) the BJP has been unable to ensure the blooming of lotus in Kashmir. But for the first time and that too after abrogation of 370, the BJP succeeded in gaining a foot hold in the Valley by winning three seats, one each in the three regions of Kashmir. This has sent shockwaves among the leaders of Gupkar alliance which claimed to have entered the electoral fray only to checkmate the BJP. 


The results will force the NC and PDP to join hands esp. in the Valley. It suits the BJP well even though it shall be a challenge to fight family based parties, contesting as one.


The BJP will have to work hard to woo 70% Valley voters who stayed away from this election. In order to fulfil its dream of “Panchayat to Parliament” in Kashmir, BJP will have to come out with innovative and “out of box” initiatives to win over Valley residents. 


BJP has to prove that it is different from other parties by erasing the image of “lack of sincerity” about Delhi as is perceived by majority Kashmiris given their past experience. Having said that, BJP must realize that appeasement will not get them votes. 


Jammu based parties who had contested against the BJP but were not part of the Gupkar Alliance have been decimated. The people were hoping that these parties would put a joint front against the Gupkar Alliance.

 Surya Mandir, Anantnag. 

As the verdict was unfolding and the alliance was faring well in Kashmir, the Gupkaris changed the narrative from preventing BJP to make inroads in the UT to the DDC elections being a referendum on abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.


Even before the final tally had emerged both Mehbooba and Omar, leaders of the Gupkar Alliance, took to twitter claiming endorsement of their stand for restoring status quo as before 05 August 2019.  


“Today’s DDC results have made it clear that people of J&K voted En masse for @JKPAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370. They have overwhelmingly supported @JKPAGD which stands for restoration of J&Ks special status,” tweeted Mehbooba Mufti. A similar tweet from Omar Abdullah also followed. These were followed by a series of tweets and statements by other leaders of the alliance. 

It was a clear attempt to hijack the victory of democracy by changing the narrative.


Being used to being in the limelight and hog media headlines through sensational and emotional outbursts has made NC/PDP put their foot in the mouth.


Actually the peaceful conduct of the elections, the first after abrogation of Article 370, was hailed as a victory of Indian democracy nationally. However, the Gupkar Alliance thought differently. The politics of Gupkar Alliance has revolved around hollow slogans, false and broken promises and manufactured narratives to emotionally exploit the public.


It was anticipated and expected that after the results, the parties would interpret the results based on the narrative they wanted to sell post the elections. Having failed to prevent the BJP from making inroads into Kashmir, the alliance was compelled to change the narrative towards referendum and demand for restoration of Article 370.


The mandate received by the alliance to form the District Councils, which is laced with the hope of local development, is well appreciated and the alliance deserves to be congratulated. But their attempt to unilaterally change the narrative deserves, not only refuting but condemnation as well.


The Gupkar Alliance must realize that the total votes polled by the seven party alliance is much less than the votes polled by BJP singularly. Here are details -  


7,08,714 (24.82%) votes were polled in favour of the BJP alone  and the alliance together has polled 6,43,274 votes (22.50%). Interestingly, newly formed Apni Party (5.30%) has won less number of seats (12) than the 26 of PDP even though its vote share is larger than the PDP (3.96%). If votes of the parties against restoration of 370 are added the tally jumps to nearly 15 lakhs while the total votes polled were 28, 55, 509.


What J&K got was a clear cut verdict in favour of development and a future sans terrorism and radicalism. It is also a big blow to those who labelled BJP as a “party of the Hindus, by the Hindus and for the Hindus.”


The Gupkaris will do well to serve the people and address their basic needs of connectivity, water and electricity for which people have reposed their faith in them while upholding the dignity of the Indian Constitution and the National Flag rather than once again resorting to rhetoric of restoration of 370. Rather than selling manufactured narratives, the people want that their quality of life to improve.


Author is a Jammu based veteran, political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst. The views expressed are entirely personal.

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