BJP's Jammu Kashmir performance has levelled the playing field

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which till very recently was not considered by political pundits and non-BJP outfits and formations a major political force in the Jammu and Kashmir, has done it again. In May, 2014, the BJP shocked it critics and upset the applecart of the ruling coalition comprising the National Conference and the Congress by winning both the Lok Sabha seats in Jammu province by defeating bigwigs like Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and capturing the lone Ladakh seat. The BJP in the General Election had led in 24 Assembly segments - 23 in Jammu and one in Ladakh. The BJP not only defeated the coalition candidates with very huge margins but also got the maximum number of votes. It got 32.4 per cent of the total popular votes polled.

The People's Democratic Party, which had also swept the polls in the Valley and defeated all the three National Conference candidates, including party president Farooq Abdullah. In fact, the BJP's vote share was 1.4 per cent higher in Jammu and Kashmir as compared to its national average. Its national average was 31 per cent. In the just held very crucial Assembly Elections in Jammu and Kashmir - the BJP again put up a great show much against the wishes of the People's Democratic Party, which was hoping to capture more than 44 seats in the 87 member Legislative Assembly and forming the next Government in the State on its own. The BJP won 25 seats and again got the highest number of votes - 23 per cent to be more exact. It won all the nine seats in Kathua, Samba and Doda districts, nine out of eleven from Jammu districts, two each from Rajouri and Udhampur districts and one each from Kishtwar, Ramban and Reasi districts.

Doda, parts of Kishtwar and Rajouri districts will be represented in the Assembly by the non-Congress representatives for the first time. That the BJP won four out of six seats from the erstwhile Doda district and two out of four from Rajouri district could be construed as a remarkable performance of the BJP by any yardstick and it could also be considered an ignominious defeat of the so-called secular outfits like the National Conference, the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party which always considered Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and Rajouri as their sole preserve on the ground that these were the areas where the non-Muslims didn't constitute an overwhelming majority of the electorate. The Hindus and Muslims of these districts showed the way by returning BJP members to the Legislative Assembly and by directly telling leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Omar Abdullah (National Conference) and Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti (People's Democratic Party) that they are for politics of development and good governance and not for their divisive and sectarian sinister agendas.

But more than that, many Muslims of the erstwhile Doda district and Rajouri district inflicted a crushing defeat on Congress, National Conference and People's Democratic Party leaders who consistently tried their best to pit the followers of one religion against the followers of another to promote their vote bank politics in these areas. They always worked for the dilution of the identity of Jammu province by playing communal and sub-regional cards. The impressive victory of the BJP in the erstwhile Doda district and its spectacular performance in the Rajouri district could also be considered a massive defeat of the votaries of Greater Kashmir comprising the almost 100 per cent Muslim Kashmir and those areas of Jammu province and Ladakh region where the Muslims are somewhat more numerous as compared to the Hindu population. Indeed, the people of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and Rajouri districts did a great service to the nation by rejecting the anti Jammu forces and strengthening the hands of a party that talks only of development, social harmony, communal amity, peace, balanced development, sound inter-regional relations and national unity and territorial integrity.

The truth, in short, is that the December 2014 verdict has all the potential of ending the domination of one region over the others or ending the domination of one section of society over all others. There are potent reasons to believe that Jammu and Kashmir will have a Government in place anytime from now that would be State-centric and not one region and one-sect-centric. A Government in which Jammu would have a real and effective say or a Government that will have no other option but to take along all the regions and all sections of society by evolving and implementing policies which cater to the needs of all. Jammu province for the first time in over 65 years will be a force to reckon with in the Assembly whatever one may think of it. The point is that the days of the Kashmiri domination over the State's polity and economy are over and there should be no doubt that the voice of Jammu and Ladakh now would be heard unlike in the past when the Valley leadership alone ruled the roost and offered only crumbs to Jammu and Ladakh. The nature of the verdict is such that neither the PDP nor the National Conference and the Congress can afford to ignore Jammu and Ladakh regions.

Not just this, the 2014 verdict has also punctured the autonomy balloon of the National Conference and rendered the PDP weak to the extent that it has been left with no other option but to abandon its divisive self-rule agenda if it is to share power with the BJP both in the State and at the Centre. Similarly, the NC has to give up its autonomy demand if it is to join the BJP led Government in the State. It will be the BJP which will now set the agenda and it has happened because the BJP has scored a splendid victory.

Courtesy Niti Central

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