Jammu, Dec 24 (IANS) In the first democratic exercise after the abrogation of Article 370, the Mayor of Jammu Chander Mohan Gupta spoke to IANS about the successful completion of the recent District Development Council elections in the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
Q: Mr Mayor, how important do you think were the DDC elections in Jammu & and Kashmir, particularly being the first democratic exercise after the abrogation of Article 370?
A: Well every election is important. Fourteen general elections have been conducted in the country in the last 72 years, however, Jammu & Kashmir has been a state where only 4 local body elections were conducted. The previous state governments didn’t want to conduct local body elections and local leadership to emerge. However, it’s because of the efforts of our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that these elections were conducted.
Prime Minister Modi had said at Delhi’s Red Fort that elections will be held in J&K for local body councils. And he delivered what he had said. If these elections were conducted in the past, J&K would have been militancy-free, with less unemployment. Mehbooba Mufti had said that her party won’t contest elections until 370 is restored, then why did her party contest at all? She should at least take a firm stand. If there is democracy restored in J&K today, it is because of the Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah.
Q: You spoke about Mehbooba Mufti and her party, People’s Democratic Party, which has been restricted to only 27 seats, whereas 50 independent candidates have emerged victorious. Do you think this is a message to PDP and the general public is looking beyond the old order and giving chance to independent leaders?
A: People in today’s times like getting work done in their constituencies. If people realise that the new leaders are worthy, then they will definitely give them the chance they deserve. Parties like PDP have been running Pakistan’s agenda and that was the reason people rejected them, particularly in the Kashmir division.
Q: BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the elections, however, it has lost seats to the Gupkar Alliance in Jammu division, like in the Chenab valley. Do you think BJP has lost its hold in the Jammu division?
A: I have the statistics and we have 75 seats throughout the state, whereas parties like the National Conference and PDP who were the ruling parties for decades, have less seats than BJP. And our voting percentage is higher than Farooq Abdullah’s NC. We might have lost some vote share in some areas, but overall we stand ahead in terms of vote share than parties like the National Conference.
Q: The Gupkar Alliance, which fought these elections considering it a referendum to restore Article 370, but as an alliance PAGD couldn’t even make it to the halfway mark of 140. So, as an alliance, do you think the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration has failed?
A: I have seen many alliances in 20 years of my political career, almost every alliance that I’ve seen, I’ve seen them dwindling with time. You can expect PAGD to fight among each other as soon as the DDC chairmanship talks start. Then I’m sure BJP will form more chairmanships with independents or may be other candidates as well.
Q: Do you think the Indian government and the current administration of L-G Manoj Sinha should provide security to the winning BJP candidates in Kashmir?
A: I’m sure the government will provide proper security, and give honor and respect to all the winning candidates, not just in Kashmir, but in many other areas where security of the candidates are important.
Q: Is the Bharatiya Janata Party going to take Srinagar DDC with the help of independent candidates?
A: Many candidates did not contest under the banner of BJP, because of many reasons. It is with the efforts and hard work of our party workers risking their lives in Kashmir, that the lotus has finally bloomed in Kashmir valley. In the near future, you might very well see independent candidates coming into the BJP.