SRINAGAR: Political turncoat Junaid Mattu was elected the Mayor of Srinagar on Tuesday, with support of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Peoples Conference (PC), and some Independents.
Mattu secured 40 votes in the contest with Congress candidate Ghulam Rasool Hajam, who secured 26 votes in the 74-member Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). The Congress had won most of the seats in Srinagar but it could not win the Mayor’s post. Mattu will assume office from Wednesday.
Junaid Mattu started his political carrier from the PC, than joined the National Conference (NC) for nearly four years. He resigned from the party when it decided to boycott the municipal elections, and rejoined PC. Rebel PDP MLA and influential Shia leader Imran Raza Ansari was instrumental in garnering support for him in the municipal election that was mostly boycotted by the electorate.
“The NC did not play the role of a mainstream party, so I made a conscious decision to quit,” Mattu told reporters today. “I have not been in association with NC since.”
He alleged that both the NC and PDP fielded proxy candidates in the municipal elections. “Both were in horse-trading with the Congress,” he said. “Why, if they were on boycott, did they play murky politics?” he asked.
Mattu contested the SMC election as Independent from four wards, winning from three of them. Later he joined the PC.
Salim Lone, PC’s deputy mayor candidate, lost by one vote to businessman Sheikh Imran at the last moment.
Talking to reporters, PC chief Sajjad Lone termed Mattu’s election as a success for the PC in Srinagar district, which has largely been dominated by PDP and NC.
“Low voter turnout has been the story for the past three decades in Kashmir elections. However, Junaid won by a larger margin than NC patron Farooq Abdullah did in the parliamentary elections. High and low voter turnout just happens in phases,” Sajjad Lone said.
Lone said that his party will work to make Srinagar one of the world’s best tourism spots. In response to a question, he said that the PC will even demolish the commercial complexes of his friend Imran Ansari if they are built on illegal land.
“But the fact is that the land is totally legal,” he said, and added that the city has shrunk because it has spread only horizontally.
“All tall and beautiful buildings do not mean that they are illegal,” he said.
Mattu said he has asked the SMC Commissioner to give a report on all work and development taking place in the city, after which he will make a roadmap on how to go about the work.