SRINAGAR — In a major embarrassment to the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), its District Development Council (DDC) members in north Kashmir’s politically-significant Baramulla district on Saturday cross-voted against its own candidate, helping Safeena Baig to win.
Safeena Baig, an independent candidate backed by People’s Conference and others, won the election for the post of chairperson of District Development Council (DDC) Baramulla while Sonullah Parray of PC bagged the position of vice-chairperson.
Both the camps had support of seven members each, which they also publicly demonstrated on February 8 when election was adjourned due to lack of quorum after PAGD members abstained.
While three members of PC, two from Apni Party and Muzaffar Dar (an independent candidate) were supporting Safeena, PAGD comprised of two members each from NC, PDP, Congress and Irfan Hafeez Lone (an independent candidate).
An official said that Safeena Baig secured 10 votes while her rival Qurat-ul-Bashir of PDP managed to get only four votes. For the post of vice-chairperson, PC’s Sonullah Parrey and Irfan Hafiz Lone got seven votes each.
“The winner for VC post was declared through draw of lots,” he said. This means three members who voted for Safeena did not vote for PC candidate during the election for VC post.
“Apni Party voted against us during the election for VC post,” a People’s Conference leader said.
High drama in Rajouri forces adjournment of election
A high pitched drama triggered by internal rebellion within National Conference and fears of cross-voting by Congress led to postponement of DDC Chairman’s election in district Rajouri.
Official sources said that the election process which began at 11:30 AM lacked quorum even as PAGD had nine members on record. Only four of National Conference, three of Congress and one from PDP turned. The BJP and Apni Party had abstained.
The fifth NC candidate, Khalid Choudhary, who stayed away for one-and-a-half hour made a dramatic entry at 1 PM, raising the hopes for smooth election.
However, upon arrival, he said he can mark his entry only if the candidature is changed to him and the official NC candidate Naseem Liaqat is made to withdraw. This caused a stalemate, leading to deferment of elections even as the meeting remained short of quorum.