Unlike the past, there are no buntings, banners or big rallies by the political parties in the campaigning for the upcoming District Development Council polls in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The DDC polls are the biggest electoral contest being held after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into two UTs – J&K and Ladakh. However, the election fever on the ground is missing this time and no big rallies have been organised to attract the voters.
The 280 DDC members will be elected in the eight-phase elections, which will begin on November 28 and end on Dec 19. The counting will be held on December 22. The DDC elections are being held on party basis and the 280 elected members will elect chairman for district developmental boards.
Most of the candidates belonging to different parties or standing independently are either going for door to door campaigning or use of social media platforms, especially, news portals to seek votes, more so in rural areas.
Many candidates, especially young ones, have made short video messages seeking votes and highlighting their priorities.
Advocate Irfan Hafeez Lone, who is contesting from Sangrama said that he believes in door to door campaigning. “I am not a tech savvy (man) but yes my friends who have a hold on social media are using the platform to boost my campaign. My opponents have money and muscle power but I am confident of winning these elections. And social media could have an impact.”
So far only the BJP and Apni Party have held some rallies or conventions in different parts of the UT, seeking votes for their candidates. BJP even brought top national leaders for the campaigning in different parts of Kashmir.
Apni party president, Altaf Bukhari, who presided over the party convention under tight security at Sherwani hall in Baramulla on Tuesday, said that these elections are for development of the areas in any assembly segments. “The people who will get elected will form development plans for their areas and it’s the third tier of the Panchayati Raj system.”
J&K pradesh congress president, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, said the party has decided that local workers will play an important role in seeking votes for party candidates in DDC polls. “We are planning some rallies in different parts of J&K,” he said.
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On Tuesday, former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah. who is also the president of six party alliance, PAGD or people’s alliance for Gupkar declaration, released a short video message seeking votes for the alliance’s candidates. The message was shared by all prominent leaders of the PAGD on social media to extend the reach of the message.
Peoples Conference spokesman, Adnan Ashraf, whose party is part of the alliance, said that their candidates are relying both on door to door campaigning and social media. “We have many young educated candidates; besides social media, they also travel to villages to seek votes. Since this is a grassroots election, local impact will have an influence.” Adnan said the campaigning has been mostly left to the local leadership. “Top leaders will go for limited campaigning.”
Ishfaq Ahmad, a political analyst, said that people in Kashmir are yet to come out of the shock of August 5, when the special status was revoked and the state was downgraded into UTs.
“Though all parties are in fray, the enthusiasm is missing even among the top leaders of big regional political parties. Now, vote percentage is crucial which will determine the future of politics in J&K.’