SRINAGAR: There was total polarization of votes in Jammu and Kashmir in this election with electorate in three regions of the State giving mandate to three different parties – BJP in Jammu, Congress in Ladakh and PDP in Valley.
It is for the first time in J&K history that there has been polarization of votes with Jammu region voting for a Hindu party and Muslim Valley preferring regional party.
Riding on the Modi wave, BJP swept Assembly polls in Jammu region, where the saffron party won 25 seats out of 37 seats. It was for the first time in J&K history that the saffron party had won 25 seats.
All heavy-weight Congress and NC ministers including Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Housing Minister Raman Bhalla, PHE Minister Sham Lal Sharma, R&B Minister Abdul Majid Wani, Minister for Planning and Development Ajay Sadhotra, Minister of State for Cooperatives Dr Manohar Lal Sharma, Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo lost to BJP candidates.
In 2008 assembly polls, BJP had won 11 seats in the region. Congress had won 13 seats followed by six by NC, three by J&K Panthers Party and two each by PDP and independent candidates.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union ministers and senior BJP leaders including party president Amit Shah campaigned for the party candidates in the Jammu region and raised issues like dynastic politics, under-development and discrimination with Jammu, misappropriation of central funds and good governance. Besides, the party leaders also raised issue of granting citizenship rights to 1947 Pakistan refugees settled in the State.
The Modi-wave did what Amarnath land row could not do for the party.
“After Amarnath land row agitation, BJP had created history by winning 11 seats in 2002 polls. But the Modi-wave and talk of good governance and development proved more beneficial for the party in the Jammu region,” a political observer said.
Such was the level of Modi-wave that out of 25 seats, 22 newly elected BJP members won the seats in their maiden elections.
Not only did the saffron party won seats in the Hindu belt, it also performed well in Muslim belts of Chenab Valley comprising Doda, Kishtwar and Bhaderwah, the home turf of senior Congress leader and former State chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The party bagged four out of six seats from the Chenab Valley.
In 2008 polls, Congress had five seats and NC one seat from the region while saffron party had drawn blank.
The saffron party also made inroads in Pir Panjal range comprising twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch. The party won two out of four seats in Rajouri districts while NC, PDP and Congress won a seat each in Poonch.
In Ladakh region, which has a mixed population of Buddhists and Muslims and where from BJP won the lone Lok Sabha seat in the parliamentary elections held early this year, Congress performed exceptionally well.
Of the four seats, Kargil and Zanskar seats have majority Muslim population while in Leh and Nobra seats, Buddhists are in majority.
Congress party won three seats from the region while an independent candidate-backed by NC won another seat in Zanskar.
It was an unexpected show by Congress in the region in view of the fact that BJP had won the parliamentary seat few months back.
Many top BP leaders had campaigned in the Ladakh, also known as cold desert. It was expected that BJP may win at least one or two seats from the region but Modi-magic did not work there and people voted for secular Congress.
In Muslim Valley, there was a triangular contest between NC, PDP and Congress. Although BJP contested most of 46-seats from the Valley, the party had no realistic chance of winning any seat from the Valley for its Hindutva agenda and its stand on Article 370.
PDP reaped the benefit of anti-incumbency wave against NC and anger against Omar Abdullah for allegedly not doing enough for the flood victims.
The party, which emerged in the political scene in 1998, won 25 seats from the Valley. It held its fort in South Kashmir and wrested five out of eight seats in Srinagar from National Conference. Srinagar was the bastion of NC and out of eight seats from the summer capital, party had won all the eight in 2008 polls.
In this election, NC got 12 seats, Congress four and independents won six seats. NC, as expected, faced wrath of people for civilian killings in Valley in 2010, hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, and not doing enough for flood victims.
BJP could not open its account in Muslim Valley despite the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior leaders campaigned for party candidates in Kashmir. The only realistic chance for BJP winning a seat in Valley was from Habba-Kadal constituency due to over 16000 migrant Kashmir Pandit votes. However, the migrant Pandits did not vote in large numbers, thus denying advantage to BJP. The seat was retained by NC’s Shamim Firdous.