Riding on Modi Wave, BJP Enters Muslim Heartlands

There was total polarisation of votes in Jammu and Kashmir this election with electorate in three regions of the State giving mandate to three different parties — the BJP in Jammu, the Congress in Ladakh and the PDP in Valley.

Published: 26th December 2014 06:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th December 2014 07:34 AM   |  A+A-

Arun-Jaitley

SRINAGAR: There was total polarisation of votes in Jammu and Kashmir this election with electorate in three regions of the State giving mandate to three different parties — the BJP in Jammu, the Congress in Ladakh and the PDP in Valley.

It is for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir that there has been polarisation of votes with Jammu region voting for a Hindu party and predominantly Muslim Valley preferring a regional party.

Riding on the Modi wave, the BJP swept Assembly polls in Jammu region, and for the first time, the saffron party won 25 seats out of the 37. 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 and Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo lost to the BJP candidates.

In 2008 assembly polls, the BJP had won 11 seats in the region. Congress had won 13 followed by the NC winning six. Three seats were won by the J&K Panthers Party and two each by the PDP and independent candidates.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union ministers and senior BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah campaigned for the 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, the 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 win 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 the 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 the NC, the PDP and Congress won a seat each in Poonch. 

In Ladakh region, which has a mixed population of Buddhists and Muslims and from where the 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 the BJP had won the parliamentary seat few months back.

Many top BJP leaders had campaigned in Ladakh, also known as the 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 Congress.

In Muslim Valley, there was a triangular contest between the NC, the PDP and Congress. Although the 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.The PDP reaped the benefit of anti-incumbency wave against the 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 the NC and out of eight seats from the summer capital, party had won all the eight in 2008 polls. In this election, the NC got 12 seats, Congress four and independents won six seats. The 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.

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