The Legitimate Desk Force
After a decade city got a new Mayor. The new Mayor is 35 year old Junaid Mattu, a former NC spokesman who resigned from National Conference after party decided to stay away from the urban local body and panchayat elections in September.
Backed by the People’s Conference, chairman Sajjad Gani Lone and the PDP dissident and legislator from Pattan, Imran Reza Ansari and the BJP.
However, his journey to mayor ship was already predicted by Governor Satya Pal Malik.
Mattu got elected as city Mayor after he secured 40 votes and defeated Congress candidate, Ghulam Rasool Hajam with a good margin. Sheikh Imran another independent won the election for the post of deputy mayor by a margin of just one vote.
Though Imran was contesting on Congress panel, however after his election he said that he is an independent and there is likelihood he too will join Mattu and his backers in the coming days.
Mattu is now acting as a bridge between Sajjad Lone and the dissident group of the PDP legislators led by former minister Ansari and efforts are underway to create a new force or an alliance which will be an alternative to the two main regional parties – National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party.
This new alliance will be spearheaded by former minister Sajjad Lone who is an ally of BJP and even became cabinet minister on the BJP quota in the PDP BJP coalition government which fell in June after BJP pulled out support from the government led by Mehbooba Mufti.
Even there are murmurs that in coming months experiment could be made to place a government in the state though chances still look very bleak.
After the government fell in June and a group of PDP legislators launched a tirade against its own leadership there were apprehensions that PDP might split but it didn’t happen as most of legislators remained loyal to Mehbooba Mufti.
The staying away of NC and the PDP from the Panchayat and local body elections has given a new opportunity to the dissidents and Sajjad Lone to consolidate his position as they have been able to capture one of the powerful civic body in the city and liberal funding from centre could help them in splitting parties.
Soon after Mattu was declared elected he told the media that he is here for a change and development of the city which was ignored in the past.
He spoke against dynastic politics and dropped hints that new political force is shaping on the political sphere of Kashmir.
People’s Conference chairman, Sajjad Lone also dropped similar hints and said PC will emerge as a big force in the politics of the J&K.
“We had a presence earlier in the mainstream politics but now we are going to take it to new level and expand our base.”
Political analysts are of the opinion that through Mattu and Imran Reza Ansari, Sajjad Lone is aiming to create a base for his party in the Srinagar. In last assembly elections, PDP had managed to win five assembly seats from Srinagar.
Imran Reza Ansari and his uncle who is legislator from Zadibal in Srinagar have got encouraged after Mattu’s election and now they may try to again woo some of the PDP and NC legislators.
The assembly is currently in suspended animation and some leaders especially in BJP will try to form a government with the help of Sajjad Lone in the near future.
The visit of BJP General Secretary, Ram Madhav to Srinagar and his meeting with Sajjad Lone, Imran Reza Ansari and Junaid Mattu is an indication that efforts are being made to create another front in J-K.
And if it really takes shape then it will be the third front after NC and the PDP. Later was formed in 1999 and many analysts said it was an effort to weaken the vote bank of NC after they passed autonomy resolution in the state assembly after the party came to power.
Now again leaders of both the PDP and the National Conference are accusing centre and some politicians of J&K for trying to weaken the vote bank of Kashmir so that new Delhi could fiddle with Article 370 and other laws which guarantee special status to the state.
The opposition Congress have already termed these elections as manufactured. In absence of the PDP and NC, Congress put its candidates all over.
The Congress leadership said that Governor Satya Pal Malik had already predicted that Srinagar will get a foreign educated mayor and questioned it.
The party state chief said that money, administration and influence and muscle was used to make new Mayor win these elections. He termed him made in BJP mayor.
However, Mattu’s win has left traditional parties NC and the PDP in thinking mood as they know the new front could eat up their shrinking base and they will lose opportunity to manoveour in the future, even could reduce into a single digit parties.
Political analysts opine that it is too early to predict anything about the new alliance. “Junaid was with Sajjad and then left him to join NC.
Now he is again with Sajjad Lone and God knows tomorrow he can again switch to any other party,’’ said a university professor. “But one thing is clear that New Delhi is still busy in experimenting things in J&K, especially in Kashmir.’’
However for the new city mayor Mattu task is very difficult as the city has seen growth in shape of urbanisation without any proper mechanism.
With new Mayor on the chair who has a foreign exposure and a degree, people hope that things under his mentorship will change and past things will not be repeated. Currently the city with a population of over 1.2 million people is facing challenges on several fronts.
And to begin with the new Mayor should streamline things in a way people should feel change has taken place for good in the city which is considered as one of the beautiful places in the world.
Despite vast resources, the SMC is still using old techniques for solid waste management which is going to be a big challenge for the new mayor.
The growing pollution is another problem and the city had been turned into a cesspool. It remains to be seen whether change will take place of which this young politician has boasting about on the social media. And instead of criticising him, let us give him a chance and see what is in store for the city people.