Kashmir DDC byelections results show BJP emerging as a player in once no-go area

The split in the vote share reflected fast emerging new players

by WebDesk
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Kashmir DDC byelections results show BJP emerging as a player in once no-go area

The recent results of the District Development Council (DDC) byelections have reflected a fast blooming lotus in otherwise a no-go area for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in north Kashmir.

The vote tally from Drugmulla and Hajin from north Kashmir has thrown up interesting trends this week, at a time when the political parties in the Union Territory (U.T.) are preparing for the first-ever Assembly election since the downgrading of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. Both these constituencies, in the past, had witnessed militants’ activities and their presence in significant numbers.

Though J&K’s oldest political party National Conference-backed candidate won the Drugmulla seat by securing 3,259 votes, the BJP stood fourth and bagged 877 votes, higher than the Congress’ 746 and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-backed candidate Rifat Jan’s 612 votes.

Once a bastion of the NC and Sajad Lone’s People Conference (PC), the Drugmulla seat also saw the rise of the J&K Apni party, a party floated after August 5, 2019, which secured 1,474 votes.

The split in the vote share reflected fast emerging new players in places where the contest was once limited to two or three regional parties prior to August 5, 2019, when the Centre ended J&K’s special constitutional position.

Unlike the 2020 DDC election held in J&K, the Peoples Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of four political parties fighting for pre-August 5, 2019 position, seemed to have ended their poll pact and were seen supporting different candidates and not a joint face.

The BJP has been working on small steps in Kashmir, where the party’s penetration in the face of alienation and prolonged conflict will not be a cake walk. Just days ahead of the DDC byelection, J&K BJP general secretary Ashok Koul, while speaking in Kupwara, had remarked that “political environment was now in complete favour of the BJP in upcoming assembly elections in J&K”. He credited the growing popularity of the BJP to “the works done in the short period of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government compared to the 70 years of Congress”.

Mudasir Wani, BJP leader and north Kashmir in-charge, and Kupwara district Prabhari Mohammad Anwar Khan have thanked people of Drugmulla, Kupwara, “for casting their votes in favour of the BJP”. “We hail all the 877 voters for their valour, bravery and for voting in large numbers in the DDC repoll. They came out to vote for an inclusive and progressive democracy,” they said, in a joint statement.

In the Hajin constituency, once a hub of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and the NC, the BJP surprised all by securing 387 votes. The BJP stood fourth with the J&K Apni Party securing 2606 votes and grabbing the seat from the powerful players, the NC and the PC. The BJP secured more votes than Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Democratic Azad Party (DAP), which bagged just 315 votes. The DDC constituency saw a triangular contest between the NC, the Peoples Conference and Apni Party, a new entrant in the electoral scene of J&K.

The election body’s decision to declare 813 votes null and void also surprised all the political parties. However, the district administration described the cancellations as per the rules. “It is done as per the rules and in case the votes that have not been stamped properly by voter, stamps placed on two candidates simultaneously, etc are to be rejected,” Deputy Commissioner, Bandipora, Dr. Owais Ahmad said.

These DDC byelections were held on December 5 and the results were declared on December 8. The re-polls were announced because the State Election Commission (SEC) found the candidature of two two female candidates from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) as invalid.

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