Now that J&K state has been bifurcated into two union territories and Articles 370 and 35A scrapped, has the Centre’s move benefitted BJP politically on the ground particularly in its stronghold Jammu?
If the recently concluded Block Development Council (BDC) polls are any indication, then BJP has failed to create an impact and things have not gone in its favour as was being expected by it. Independents managed to take a lion’s share.
Reports said that the BJP leadership in Delhi was not happy with the performance of its party in BDC polls.
Various reasons are being given by political observers for BJP’s below expectation performance. In Jammu even as most people seemingly hailed abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, the downgrading of J&K state into two union territories (UTs) came as a surprise. BJP won both the seats in Jammu in last two Lok Sabha polls. Even in last assembly elections, Jammu gave a decisive mandate to BJP, which finally led to formation of coalition government of PDP and BJP later. The BJP supporters were expecting a separate state for Jammu. But this did not happen. Instead J&K got divided into two UTs.
Secondly, allegations of corruption against a number of BJP ministers and other leaders of the party during PDP-BJP ruled have dented the image of BJP to some extent. While the then governor Satya Pal Malik kept on targeting Kashmir based leaders of PDP and National Conference for corruption, he did not utter a word against the corruption by Jammu based BJP leaders.
The probe agencies focus also remained on Kashmiri leaders and those from Jammu were not touched. Inspite of the campaign by Malik as also central BJP leaders against NC and PDP leaders from Kashmir, Jammu did not ignore the alleged wrong doings of some Jammu based BJP leaders. This was reflected in BDC polls also, observers say.
On August 5, the Rajya Sabha passed a resolution moved by union home minister Amit Shah for abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A and bifurcation of J&K state into two UTs. The resolution was passed by the Lok Sabha next day. President Ram Nath Kovind also gave his assent to it and the president’s proclamation came into effect yesterday as J&K ceased to be a state and it was split into two UTs while Articles 370 and 35 A became inoperational.
While Kashmir continued to be shut against Centre’s moves and mainstream leadership was detained, the governor’s administration and union government decided to hold BDC polls in Jammu and Kashmir on party lines on October 24. Panches and Sarpanches had to vote to elect chairpersons for BDCs. For obvious reasons three major parties National Conference, PDP and Congress besides Peoples Conference decided to boycott the elections.
It was being assumed that BJP will do fairly well particularly in Jammu in view of the perception that Centre’s bid to strip the state of its special status was a popular move in Jammu. The absence of other parties in the fray could also have given BJP more advantage. But this did not happen.
In Jammu region, 307 blocks were notified for elections. BJP won only 81, while independents bagged 217. Panthers Party got eight seats and INC one.
In Jammu district out of 20 blocks, BJP could won nine, while independents 11. Udhampur district has 17 blocks, BJP got only four, Panthers Party 8, while independents 5. In Kathua district, out of 19 blocks, BJP emerged victorious in nine and independents on 10.
Likewise in Doda out of 17, BJP could manage only five, while independents 12. In Ramban, out of 11, BJP got two and independents nine. BJP got four out of 12 in Reasi district, while independents eight. Samba district has nine blocks, BJP won four and independents five. Out of 19 blocks in Rajouri district, eight went to BJP, while 11 to independents.
In Poonch out of 11 blocks, BJP could not win even a single block, and 11 blocks went to independents. BJP won seven out of 13 blocks in Kishtwar, while six were bagged by independents.
In Kashmir division, out of 128 notified blocks, BJP won 18, INC one and independents 109. In Ladakh division out of 31 blocks, BJP managed 11, while independents 20. In Leh district, out of 16, BJP won seven and independents nine, while in Kargil, BJP won four out of 15 blocks, while independents got 11 blocks.