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BJP inching towards its goal in Jammu and Kashmir

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The current developing political exercises clearly indicate a surprise permutation combination to come up in which BJP probably achieves its goal of forming a government of its own or in arrangement with like-minded party leaders.

Jammu and Kashmir is eager to witness assembly elections in the union territory set-up, after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019. However, dates for the elections have not been announced yet.

BJP inching towards its goal in Jammu and Kashmir

The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly was dissolved on November 21, 2018, followed by the abrogation of special status on August 5, 2019. Subsequently, the delimitation commission, Order No. 2, dated 5th May 2022 came into force and earmarked 43 seats to the Jammu region and 47 to the Kashmir region - increasing the strength of Union territory's assembly to 90 members from the previous 83. Earlier, Jammu had 37 seats, and Kashmir had 46.

Considerably, out of the seven new seats, six have been allotted to Jammu and one to Kashmir. And for the first time, the delimitation commission reserved nine seats for the Scheduled Tribes (ST). It also recommended members be nominated from Kashmiri migrant communities, displaced at the peak of militancy in the 1990s.

Will BJP reap benefits of development in North-eastern states in Assembly elections next year?Will BJP reap benefits of development in North-eastern states in Assembly elections next year?

But political parties from the region, particularly from the Kashmir valley, have remained bitterly opposed to the scrapping of the special status, and want statehood to be restored before the delimitation and elections. But the demand has been rejected by the Centre. In June 2018, when the BJP withdrew its support from the People's Democratic Party (PDP) of the Mehbooba Mufti government, at that time the parties' strengths were - PDP (28), BJP (25), JKNC (15), INC (12), JKPC (2), CPI(M) (1), JKPDF (1), IND (3), NOM (2). Governor's rule was subsequently imposed in Jammu and Kashmir on December 20, 2018.

Immediately after the withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) came into existence against NDA. Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference came under the banner of PAGD to challenge BJP in elections.

Whereas, other smaller political parties like Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference, Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement, Ikkjutt Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir Workers Party, Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Front have little role but their vote bank, wherever they have the presence, can give a fillip to the winning candidate.

As far as the Congress party is concerned, it gradually eroded its presence particularly in Jammu, after having an alliance with the National Conference in November 1986 against the wishes of their respective party cadre. Secondly, the inner bickering in Congress remained the main reason to damage its stature, which never got repaired till now. As result of that, the workers either joined other parties or left Congress.

According to R. S. Chib, former minister and Congress leader, "there are bleak chances of Congress to even retain its seats. The organizational structure is in disarray." Speculations were rife that senior Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad will float a political front to revive the party cadre under a different banner for which he held hectic meetings with Congress leaders in Jammu and Kashmir. But, suddenly he withdrew himself from this venture for the reasons best known to him.

Politically, BJP's status seems enhanced for two reasons. Firstly, PAGD, Congress and other small political parties are in search of political agenda. The PAGD headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah is committed to restoring special status to the state come what may. Dr Abdullah has been on an election campaign trying hard to woo the people in Muslim belts in the Jammu region. Secondly, the delimitation commission recommendations are surely going to benefit BJP in Hindu and tribal regions. BJP is also committed to giving political reservations to the Pahari community before the elections are announced. They have the influence in 12 assembly seats which would add further vote bank in favour of BJP, if the reservation is granted.

'Confident' regional players in J&K demand Assembly elections'Confident' regional players in J&K demand Assembly elections

The current developing political exercises clearly indicate a surprise permutation combination to come up in which BJP probably achieves its goal of forming a government of its own or in arrangement with like-minded party leaders.

Finally, it goes without saying that BJP has a fair chance to capture 30-32 seats in Jammu, while Congress can get 6-7. In the milieu, Aam Adami Party, instead of opening its account will damage the Congress vote bank in Jammu. In Kashmir valley, PAGD will have the upper hand but it will be difficult to come to power. Peoples Conference of Sajjad Lone and Apani Party of Altaf Bukhari branded in the valley as B-team of BJP will serve the interest of BJP if need be. While the proxy candidates too will have their own axe to grind.

Population in Jammu and Kashmir:

BJP inching towards its goal in Jammu and Kashmir

Tribes and their population in Jammu and Kashmir:

BJP inching towards its goal in Jammu and Kashmir

(R C Ganjoo is a senior journalist and columnist having more than 30 years experience of covering issues concerning national security, particularly Kashmir. He has worked with several prominent media groups and his articles have been published in many national and international publications.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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