Ruling alliance sweeps J&K council elections
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In a setback to both the mainstream and the separatist opposition in J&K, the ruling National Conference-Congress alliance Thursday won all four Panchayat quota seats in the Legislative Council.
The seats had gone to polls on December 3 for the first time since 1974. Sham Lal of the Congress took one seat in Jammu, defeating Gurmeet Singh of the Peoples Democratic Party by 7,034 votes while NC's Shahnaz Ganai trounced PDP's Ved Parkash Gupta by 6,917 votes to take the other.
In Kashmir, NC's Ali Mohammad Dar won one seat, defeating PDP's Peer Mohammad Hussain by 2,600 votes. The other went to Congress' Ghulam Nabi Monga, who defeated PDP's Yasir Reshi by nearly 2,500 votes.
Besides the PDP, the Panthers Party had fielded candidates on all four seats but failed to manage a win. The BJP, which contested three seats, too drew a blank. Former separatist Sajjad Lone and Independent MLA Engineer Rashid had put up their candidates on both seats in the valley but none of them could secure even 500 votes.
And not just the mainstream opposition, the polls have also dented the stock of the separatists, whose call for poll boycott fell flat — 97 per cent of the electorate voted.
The National Conference and the Congress, meanwhile, are jubilant; their workers beat drums and distributed sweets to celebrate the success. But the panches and sarpanches — the voters — have a word a caution for them: "don't count us as party supporters".
The panches and sarpanches supported the government, Shafiq Mir, chairman of the J&K Panchayat Conference said, because they know it still has two more years in power during which time it can initiate developmental work. And how the government fares will determine who they will support in the 2014 Assembly polls, Mir said.