Ex-NC leader Mattu elected Srinagar Mayor with support from BJP, Peoples Conference

#My election as Srinagar Mayor message to those who treat politics as fiefdom: Mattu


Srinagar, Nov 6: Former National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattu, who quit the party to contest the urban local body polls, was elected Mayor of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) on Tuesday with the support from the BJP and the Peoples Conference.
Mattu secured 40 votes while Congress candidate for the mayoral post Ghulam Rasool Hajam got 26 votes in the 74-member SMC, Commissioner of the civic body Peer Hafizullah said.
Congress-backed independent corporator Sheikh Imran was elected Deputy Mayor. Imran bagged 35 votes and defeated Mohammad Saleem Lone by a solitary vote.
Mattu resigned from the primary membership of the National Conference in September after the party decided not to contest the urban local body polls till the Centre made clear its position on Article 35-A of the Constitution, which has been challenged before the Supreme Court.
Mattu contested the SMC election as Independent from four wards, winning from three of them. He was announced as the mayoral candidate by Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone hours after the election results were declared on October 20.
The Congress emerged as the single largest party in the SMC with 16 seats but fell way short of 38, the number of seats required to take control of the corporation. While the Peoples Conference had four, the BJP had five candidates elected to the corporation. There are 53 Independent corporators.
Lone, who was a minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir from the BJP quota, is seen as instrumental in garnering support for Mattu's election, along with rebel PDP MLA and influential Shia leader Imran Raza Ansari.
However, Mattu's election as Mayor of SMC has been clouded by remarks of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik during an interview to a private TV channel last month.
Malik had, without naming Mattu, said Srinagar was getting "foreign educated mayor" which would send jitters among the regional parties such as the NC and the PDP, which did not take part in the elections.
The political parties had said Governor's remarks had put question mark on the whole election process.
The NC and the PDP boycotted the election over the issue of Article 35-A, which according special powers to the state legislature with regard to permanent residents of the state.
JunaidAzimMattu, the newly-elected mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), on Tuesday said his election was a message to those political parties which treated mainstream politics as their fiefdom.
Mattu, a former member of the National Conference (NC), resigned from the party's primary membership in September after it decided to boycott the urban local body (ULB) polls.
He contested the SMC election as Independent from four wards and won from three of them.
"This is a historic election and a change has begun which will not remain confined to Srinagar only. This is a message to those traditional exploiters who had made mainstream politics their territorial asset," Mattu told reporters here after he was elected as the mayor.
He alleged that while the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) boycotted the ULB polls, they tried to influence the mayoral election.
"The local bodies elections was 'haraam' (forbidden) but mayoral election was 'halaal' (permissible) for them. They have been discredited and completely exposed," he said.
Asked about Governor Satya Pal Malik favouring him as the next mayor of the SMC even before the election process had kicked off, Mattu said he contested the elections with utmost honesty.
"Governor made a remark. He thought this might happen as he has ground reports. However, we (I) have contested the elections with complete sincerity and honesty," he said.
"If the governor, in future, says Madamji (an apparent reference to PDP president Mehbooba Mufti) or Prince (an apparent reference NC vice president Omar Abdullah) will become the chief minister, then they will be all praise for him. Just because the governor named someone outside these two dynasties, fingers are being raised," he added.
Mattu said he would work towards making Srinagar a world-class tourist city and his priority will be to improve the quality of life and enhance the dignity of the residents.
He was announced as the mayoral candidate by Peoples Conference (PC) chairman SajadGani Lone hours after the election results were declared on October 20.
He was also supported by the BJP, which is an ally of the PC. Asked about his anti-BJP rants during his time as NC spokesperson, Mattu said he will answer the question after NC vice president Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti explain their associations with the saffron party in the past.
"Omar Abdullah was external affairs minister with them (BJP) and Mehbooba Mufti was eating out of same plate with them till recently. I will answer this question after they do it," he said.

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