BDC Polls: Independents Called The Day

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Elections

Rezwan Sultan

Even though the BJP was aiming to penetrate across the entire Jammu and Kashmir via Block Development Council elections owing to the boycott of all main political parties, it has received a major setback following the loss of crucial elections in Kashmir and facing tough competition in Jammu region.

After the abrogation of Article 370 by centre on August 5, all the major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir decided to boycott the political process leaving a significant vacuum in state which eventually BJP failed to encash.

The BDC elections in the state were held first time though earlier the Panchayat elections were held in 2011 by Omar Abdullah government an later by PDP-BJP in 2016.  As many as 1065 candidates were in fray in the state, according to government officials.

The figures released by the chief electoral officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar revealed that 98.3 per cent Panchayat members cast their votes out of the total 26,629 Panchayat members at 307 blocks.

“128 seats in the Valley 109 seats in Jammu were bagged by the independents.”

BJP which had earlier in 2018 swept the Parliamentary elections won just 18 seats and Congress bagged one sea, though the latter had officially boycotted the process.

In North Kashmir, Independent Candidates won all 24 seats from Kupwara. In Baramulla 25 seats were bagged by the independents and one seat went into the pocket of BJP and all 12 seats of Bandipora were bagged by the independents candidates.

In Central Kashmir seven and three seats of Ganderbal and Srinagar were swept by independents while in Budgam 14 seats bagged by the independents and 2 by BJP.

In South Kashmir BJP won 15 seats, in which all 8 seats of Shopian were bagged by BJP where 6 were elected unopposed. In Pulwama out of 9 seats  both independents and BJP got 4,4 each and one bagged by Congress candidate who fought on the party symbol despite boycott announced by the party. Seven Seats of Kulgam were swept by independents while in Anantanag 13 went in the pocket of independents while 3 won by BJP.

In Jammu region unexpectedly the party had a poor show.  Out of 148 blocks, BJP won just 52 seats; Independents swept 88 seats and eight seats won by Panther’s party. BJP was rejected in all 11 seats of Poonch district.  Similarly, in Ladakh, BJP won 11 seats and independents won 20 seats. Out of total 307 seats independents bagged 217 seats; BJP was restricted to 81 seats, Panthers Party 8 seats and Congress only one seat.

These elections were last in the J&K state before it will become Union Territory from November 01, 2019. In these elections 33% seats were without panchs and sarpanchs with nearly 30% from Valley, as out of total 19578 panchs and sarpanch seats in valley there are 12579 seats empty with six blocks without having any representative.

While BJP seemed in hurry to hold the block level elections in state before the implementation of J&K reorganization act 2019, it faced a backlash in the entire process. The BJP lost the elections even when there was no strong opposition in place. In other words, the BJP lost to independent candidates with no strong backing and deserves introspection in the camp.

There’re few reasons of the loss of BJP. In Jammu, on 17 October BJP expelled over 20 party leaders who were indulged in anti –party activities, according to a report. According to reports there were over 50 leaders and close relatives of   senior party contested as rebels against the party nominees in the polls as rebels. These rebels were supported by Congress and NC.  While the CEO has denied having any information regarding proxy candidates, “We don’t have any information on that. This is all hearsay. The candidates who have contested on party tickets have party symbol. We have no information that the independents have been supported by any party”.

CEO said that even two candidates have contested on Congress ticket which otherwise had boycotted the elections. On the other hand the BJP general secretary Ashok Kaul has shown his satisfaction over the performance of the party. “The party has performed well. 217 victorious independent candidates reportedly are proxies of NC, PDP and Congress.”

Another reason was the recently taken decision on August 5. Analysts believe that Jammutties know that by scrapping of 35A they will have to lose their jobs and land as due to volatile situation in Kashmir, it will not get affected by it. People from other states will be very careful about spending money in valley while Jammu is peaceful. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given credit to the August 5 decision for the high turnout in the polls. While terming the PM Mod’s statement ridiculous CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has said that “there is no sign of improvement in the situation in Kashmir, Modi is using the way of propaganda”.

“Just 27 thousand panchs and sarpanchs have casted their vote not the people,” he added.

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