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Lok Sabha Poll results: Some bitter lessons for J&K parties

Assembly elections to get tougher now
12:00 AM Jun 05, 2024 IST | ZAHOOR MALIK
lok sabha poll results  some bitter lessons for j k parties

Except for the one major surprise, the Lok Sabha (LS) election results in Jammu and Kashmir are almost same as was being widely believed in the political circles here from the very beginning. However, deep down, the results are carrying a stern warning for almost all political parties. The warning is to stop being over-confident and stop believing that what they say is always being believed by people.


The results also carried a message for the parties to try to feel correctly the pulse of the people on the ground and do not always live in a make- believe world. The poll verdicts also indicate that the coming assembly elections will be even  more tougher for the contestants.


And if the political parties failed to analyse correctly the present poll results and did not re-devise and re-define their respective election strategies accordingly, they can be in deep trouble electorally.


The defeat of former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) Vice President Omar Abdullah in Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency is a big set back for him and his party even as NC won the Srinagar and Baramulla seats. Likewise, the defeat of another former Chief Minister and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag-Rajouri constituency is a major jolt to her and her party. PDP could not win any seat.


However, the party came at second place in Srinagar constituency. While  BJP again won both the seats in Jammu division - Jammu and Udhampur- but the victory margin this time is lesser than what it was in 2019 parliamentary polls reflecting inroads made by the Congress.


But Congress can not afford to stop here, and has to work even harder if it wants to give a tough fight to BJP in assembly polls. BJP’s like minded parties in Kashmir too could not create any significant impact in Lok Sabha election. The defeat of BJP in Ladakh indicates reversing of gains the party had made after making the region a separate union territory.


The victory of jailed Awami Ittihad Party (AIP) leader, Engineer Abdul Rashid, in Baramulla though was being predicted by some quarters since the polling day, came as a big surprise on the counting day. The strong cadres of National Conference failed to counter what the political analysts  describe “the sympathy wave” for Er. Rashid in the constituency.


Going by the record polling in the parliamentary polls, much higher polling is expected in the coming assembly elections now. All parties including NC, BJP, PDP, Congress and the like minded parties of BJP will have to be on the right track in assembly elections. Otherwise, it can be anybody’s game in the assembly polls. More surprises like that of Engineer Rashid’s victory can be in store for them in assembly elections as well.

For BJP and its like minded parties the defeat of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti is a big solace. The defeats are being projected by them as the rejection of the dynastic politics in Kashmir. However, both NC and PDP do not agree with this view for their own reasons.

Omar Abdullah took a big political risk by deciding to contest from Baramulla constituency instead of Srinagar, where he was elected a number of times in the past. Everything was looking alright for him in Baramulla but later the pro- Engineer Rashid wave almost swept the constituency.

PDP circles say that initially Mehbooba was not in favour of her party contesting Lok Sabha polls. According to them she wanted to support NC, but Omar’s statement that “PDP does not exist now made her to field candidates in all the three constituencies.” Realising that the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency has huge population of Gujjar and Bakerwal and Pahari communities, NC fielded former minister and prominent Gujjar leader Mian Altaf Ahmad there. The plan worked very well and party cadres in Anantnag and Kulgam also played an important role in his victory. Mehbooba could not get the expected significant help from the voters in the areas, which were being considered as PDP’s strongholds.

The poll percentage in these areas was not as high as was being expected by the party. Her appeal to Congress workers and supporters to vote for her to send a strong voice to parliament almost went unheard. Both NC and PDP are part of the Congress led opposition’s INDIA bloc at the national level. But the two parties fought elections against each other in Kashmir with Congress, CPI (M) and CPI supporting NC.

Several political leaders including Omar Abdullah were describing the Lok Sabha polls as the semi- final before final match (assembly polls). Now the election results are very much before them. So every party will analyse these results and also the voting patterns in every assembly segment of the parliamentary constituencies and accordingly devise their future plans.

2024 Lok Sabha polls were the first major electoral exercise after the central government’s decisions about Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. The decisions saw the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A and bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. BJP sought votes in Jammu for taking these decisions.

While NC and PDP sought votes against the decisions. The leaders of the two parties claimed that the votes for their parties would mean the rejection of union government decisions by the people. They assured the masses safeguarding the special identity of Jammu and Kashmir and their rights in future.

The like minded parties of BJP also criticised abrogation of Article 370 but they appealed the people to vote for them to put an end the “dynastic, exploitative and deceitful politics of NC and PDP.” NC described all rival contesting parties including the PDP as the proxies of the BJP.

BJP had not fielded any candidate in Kashmir constituencies but decided to support like minded parties. While publicly the like minded parties were not disclosed but privately the BJP workers and supporters were told for whom to vote.

Omar Abdullah alleged that while BJP was not contesting directly it was contesting through Apni Party and People’s Conference (PC). He, in this connection, referred to a meeting between BJP National General Secretary Tarun Chugh, People’s Conference President Sajad Gani Lone and Apni Party President Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari at the latter’s residence in Srinagar. Omar later alleged that PDP was also being supported by the BJP.

Apni Party had fielded candidates in Srinagar and Anantnag-Rajouri constituencies but was supporting Sajad Lone of PC in Baramulla. PC was supporting Apni Party in Srinagar and Anantnag-Rajouri constituencies. Altaf Bukhari said since Apni Party is a new party, its main focus is assembly polls.

Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) had fielded candidates in Udhampur, Srinagar, and Anantnag-Rajouri constituencies. The party was supporting Engineer Rashid in Baramulla. 

Author is senior editor, Greater Kashmir