The people of Jammu and Ladakh provinces again pinned faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it was on expected lines
Election results in the border State of Jammu and Kashmir, like all other states of the country, are out. The results were on expected lines. The Congress, which had no nationalistic wares of its own to put in the political markets of Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh for sale, suffered a humiliating defeat in all the five constituencies where it tested political waters. It had fielded 2 candidates each in Jammu province and Kashmir Valley and one in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh. The Congress secured 28.37% of the total votes polled in these five constituencies.
The fate of the Kashmir-based and pro-self-rule People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Mehbooba Mufti was no different. The PDP had fielded its candidates in all the three Kashmir’s Lok Sabha constituencies but came out of the electoral exercise minus everything. Even Mehbooba Mufti suffered a humiliating defeat in the Anantnag constituency, once considered a stronghold of the PDP. She could get only a paltry 30,524 votes (2.18%) from a constituency of 13,97,272 voters. She came third. The overall vote-share tally of the PDP in Kashmir is 2.37%. The PDP led only in 3 out of Kashmir’s 46 assembly segments. And this should clinch the whole issue and establish that the PDP, which was established in 1999 by Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti with much fanfare as an alternative to the National Conference (NC) of Farooq Abdullah and which ruled the state for more than 7 years, has lost its sheen and appeal.
The BJP swept the polls in both these provinces. Its candidate from Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency Jugal Kishore Sharma won the seat by 3,02,875 votes.
The NC did win all the three seats from the Kashmir Valley but got only 2,80,306 votes out of a total of 40,09,570 registered voters (6.99%). Its president and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah got only 1,06,750 votes (8.24%) out of 12,94,560 registered voters from Srinagar parliamentary constituency. As for its vote share in the whole state was concerned, it was a paltry 3.54%. The NC led in the Kashmir’s 30 assembly segments.
The total number of voters in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was 79,17,615. Only 18.9% of the total registered voters voted in Kashmir. The voting percentage in Srinagar was 14.1%, in Anantnag 8.7% and Baramulla 34%. Baramulla is ethnically non-Kashmiri constituency and, hence, somewhat higher voter turnout. Its overall vote-share tally is 7.89%.
The NC, which, like the PDP, sought a mandate on the planks of autonomy-for-Jammu and Kashmir, preserve-Article 370 and Article 35A and hold-talks-with-Pakistan and Hurriyat leaders, may call it a victory, which it did, but it’s virtually its moral and political defeat.
It needs to be noted that both the NC and the PDP didn’t field even one candidate in any of the three parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Ladakh. They had not fielded their candidates in Jammu and Ladakh in 2014 as well given the fact that their leadership knew it full well that they had everything to lose and nothing to win Jammu and Ladakh, which constitute 85% of the state’s land area and house over 50% of the state’s population. The decision of the NC and the PDP to not field its candidates in Jammu and Ladakh only proved that both these parties have little or no say in these two strategic regions of the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also had fielded its candidates from all the three Kashmir constituencies but suffered a humiliating defeat. They together polled 19,766 votes (4631 in Srinagar, 9,687 in Anantnag and 5,448 in Baramulla). These also included 9,835 internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindu voters. That the BJP would be rejected outright in Kashmir was a foregone conclusion, notwithstanding the oft-repeated claim of the party leadership that the “BJP has 4.5 lakh members in the Kashmir Valley”.
This much for the Congress, the PDP and the NC, which left no stone unturned to paint the BJP black and make mountains out of mole-hills to create an impression that PM Narendra Modi’s Kashmir policy was “anti-Kashmir” and “anti-Muslim”.
Let’s now focus on the poll results in Jammu and Ladakh, its nature and political significance. The people of Jammu and Ladakh provinces again pinned faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it was on expected lines. The BJP swept the polls in both these provinces. Its candidate from Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency Jugal Kishore Sharma won the seat by 3,02,875 votes. He defeated the NC/PDP-supported Congress candidate, former minister Raman Bhalla. Jugal Kishore Sharma got 8,58,066 votes. In 2014, he had won this seat by a margin of 2.20 lakh. The BJP’s other candidate from Jammu’s Kathua-Udhampur parliamentary constituency, MoS in PMO Jitendra Singh, won the seat by a margin of 3,57,242 votes. He got 7,24,311 votes and defeated the NC/PDP-supported candidate, former Sadar-e-Riyasat Dr. Karan Singh’s son, Vikramaditya Singh. Jitendra Singh had won this seat in 2014 as well but by a margin of 62,000 votes. He had defeated former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad (presently Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha). The BJP led in 25 out of the 37 assembly segments in Jammu province, a great performance. Jammu province registered a voter turnout of over 71%.
It is hoped that the new Narendra Modi Government would appreciate the nature and significance of the 2019 mandate and take all necessary steps to separate Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir to restrict the area of strife to the tiny Kashmir Valley
In the Cold-Desert Ladakh, the BJP also performed exceedingly well. Its candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, sitting Chairman-cum-CEC of LAHDC Leh, recorded impressive victory margin of 10,930 votes. It’s a huge victory margin considering the fact that the number of voters in Ladakh is only 1,74,967. Namgyal polled 42,914 votes and defeated the NC, PDP and Islamiya School Kargil joint candidate, Sajjad Kargili. The BJP led in three out of the four assembly segments – Leh and Nubra in the Buddhist-majority Leh district and Zanskar in the Shiite-majority Kargil district. It was in 2014 that the BJP won the lone Ladakh seat for the first time. Its candidate Thupstan Chhewang, a prominent Buddhist leader and son-in-law of the Queen of Ladakh Rani Parvati, had won the seat by a paltry 36 votes. Ladakh, like Jammu, also registered over 71% voter turnout.
The BJP got 16,25,291 votes out of a total of 39,08,045 registered voters in Jammu and Ladakh. The BJP’s secured 46.39% of the total votes polled in Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. In 2014, the BJP’s poll percentage was 32.4%. It means the BJP’s vote share increased by 14.35%. And, it’s a huge jump.
Several factors helped the BJP win Jammu and Ladakh provinces hands down. Some of them included the BJP’s solemn commitments that it if voted to power, will scrap Article 35A and Article 370, deport Rohingyas and Bangladeshis from Jammu, end 70-year-old discriminatory policies against these two regions, eliminate the menaces of separatism and terrorism and give a free hand to the armed forces. Other factors were: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scathing attacks on the PDP and the NC, the Balakot air strike, ban on Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF, suspension of cross-LoC trade with Pakistan, withdrawal of security of over 900 separatists and half-separatists, reopening of murder and abduction cases against JKLF chief Yasin Malik, grant of divisional status to Ladakh, establishment of separate Ladakh University, promise of Union Territory status et al. It needs to be noted that things in Jammu and Ladakh tilted in favour of the BJP on June 19, 2018, when the BJP withdrew its support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government and imposition of the Governor’s Rule followed by the imposition of the President’s Rule.
The poll results in Jammu and Kashmir demonstrate four things. One: Jammu and Ladakh have no place whatsoever for the votaries of autonomy, self-rule, India-Pakistan joint-control on Jammu and Kashmir, demilitarization, dual currency, and soft or porous borders. Two: The BJP represents the 85% land area of the state. Three: The people of Jammu and Ladakh vouch for full integration into India and reject with contempt all those Articles and statutes which hold them aloof from the national mainstream or drive them away from the national mainstream. And, four: The 2019 mandate, like the 2014 mandate, is a mandate for the reorganization of the state.
It is hoped that the new Narendra Modi Government would appreciate the nature and significance of the 2019 mandate and take all necessary steps to separate Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir to restrict the area of strife to the tiny Kashmir Valley. This is a must to defeat Kashmir jihad and strengthen the nationalist constituencies in Jammu and Ladakh, the nation’s backbone in the strategic region.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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