Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference candidate and former aide of Omar Abdullah, Junaid Mattu, is the new Mayor of Srinagar. Junaid has polled 40 votes out of 70 and was elected as the mayor of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation on Tuesday.
Junaid's win as Srinagar Mayor saw him being congratulated by BJP's National General Secretary Ram Madhav who tweeted, "Junaid Mattoo, independent supported by Sajjad Lone's People's Conference and BJP has won d Mayor post of Srinagar. He polled against d combined candidate of PDP, NC and Congress by 40 votes to 26 votes. Congrats Junaid and Sajjad n all Corporators."
Many in the valley argue that Junaid's win is a basically a victory for BJP in the valley which has been desperately trying to make inroads here.
Junaid before the commencement of the municipal polls in Kashmir had announced his resignation from the National Conference where he served for six years. He had come to be known as a key aide of Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Junaid cited the reason of NC's boycott of the local body polls for his resignations. However, political commentators say that Junaid's exit from NC was a well planned move orchestrated by his earlier mentor Sajad Lone who heads Peoples Conference and is a known ally of BJP in Kashmir.
Infact, it was Sajad Lone who announced Mattu's win from the three wards in Srinagar division and his candidature from Peoples Conference.
Sajad who also served as an ex minister in the Mehbooba Mufti cabinet during the PDP-BJP government is also thought of trying to put together a third front in Kashmir with the help of BJP, and thus end the NC and PDP's decades old dominant electoral hold in the valley.
So is Junaid's win a major setback to the parties like PDP and NC in Srinagar and a strategic move of BJP to make inroads in the valley?
"Seemingly so", says a Muhammad Altaf, a research scholar at Kashmir University.
"The BJP which had fared very badly during the last Assembly polls in Kashmir has done good to itself by tying up with Sajad Lone. Sajad, is basically the kingmaker who has successfully been able to rope in key men from Mehbooba Mufti's PDP and Omar Abdullah's NC and is on the other hand thought of as a BJP man in the valley," Altaf added.
Interestingly, J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik, who joined his office in October, had announced even before the commencement of the polls that the Srinagar Mayor will be a young foreign educated person which gave rise to the speculations that the municipal polls and their results may have been compromised.
However, Junaid had responded by hitting out at mainstream parties like PDP and NC saying that their boycott of the elections is a farce and that they have instead fielded their proxy candidates in the polls.