by Yawar Hussain
SRINAGAR: Three districts in Kashmir valley are slated to have women as chairpersons of the recently elected District Development Councils while in Jammu division the number is also three but one is reserved for a woman of the Scheduled Tribe community.
As per a notification issued by State Election Commission, north Kashmir’s Baramulla, central Kashmir’s Ganderbal, and south Kashmir’s restive Shopian districts will be headed by a woman chairperson.
The notification further states that in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, the DDC chairperson would be a member of the Scheduled Tribe while in Jammu the districts of Poonch and Rajouri have been reserved for the Scheduled Tribe category candidates. The Poonch district seat is further reserved for a women candidate of the Scheduled Tribe category.
The notification has also reserved two more DDC’s in Jammu and Kashmir for the persons of the Scheduled Caste category including the Jammu district and the Udhampur. The DDC chairperson in both these districts would be from the Scheduled Caste category.
In the Jammu region, Kishtwar and Ramban districts have been reserved for women candidates who can become chairpersons of DDC.
The other 10 out of 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir have been kept under the “Open” category for any candidate to compete for the chairperson seat.
The “Open” category districts of Jammu and Kashmir include Bandipora, Budgam, Doda, Kathua, Kulgam Kupwara, Pulwama, Reasi, Samba and Srinagar.
In Kashmir valley’s Shopian, reserved for women DDC chairperson, five women had won the elections including Nigeena Jan of Congress from (Chitragam); Yasmeena Jan of National Conference (NC) (Imamsahib-I); Mehmooda Akhter of NC (Kaprin); Safia Riyaz of NC (Ramnagri) and Bilquees Jan an independent (Zainpora-I). One among them is now going to head the DDC position in the district.
In Baramulla district, also reserved for women, Safeena Beigh whose wife of Muzafar Beigh won as an independent from Wagoora; Najma Begum of Peoples Conference (PC) from Singhpora; Parmeet Kour of PC from Rafiabad; Razia Hassan of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Narwav and Qurat-ul-Bashir of PDP from Baramulla.
The contest in Baramulla has become more interesting after the exit of PC from the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) clan with the former having three seats while the latter having four seats excluding two seats of the Congress which might ally with the PAGD.
The PC now has two women candidates while the PAGD too has two in the district. It remains to be seen where Safeena Beigh ends up in the district.
In Ganderbal, which is also reserved for a women DDC chairperson, Zahida Hamid of NC won from Wakura-I; Nuzhat Ishfaq, wife of former NC lawmaker Ishfaq Jabbar, from Lar-B; Tasmeena Adil of PDP from Kangan A; Hakima Bano of NC from Gund-A and Rozy Jan of PDP from Ganderbal-A.
The elections to the 280 seats of the first-ever-DDCs in Jammu and Kashmir were held last year from November 28 to December 22 in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had emerged as the single largest party but still couldn’t outperform its rival political grouping in the form of PAGD.
The BJP has a clear mandate in six districts while the PAGD had on thirteen till the PC exited, bringing the two more districts of Kupwara and Baramulla in limbo.