Srinagar: Former National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattu, who quit the party to contest the urban local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir, 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.
Mattu resigned from the primary membership of the National Conference (NC) 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 Bharatiya Janata Party (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 the 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 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which did not take part in the elections.
The political parties had said the 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