Next Stop J&K

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Despite expectations to the contrary, the BJP repeated its 2014 performance in J&K and this time with even more vote share, which enhanced to 46.4 per cent from 34.40 in 2014. The percentage showed that the BJP led in 27 out of 41 assembly seats in these three parliamentary constituencies. 

BJP leader and Union Minister Jitendra Singh won by 3.57 lakh votes defeating Congress’ Vikramaditya Singh, the son of Jammu and Kashmir’s last prince Karan Singh. Congress party itself, already reduced to a marginal player in the state lost from all the five seats it contested, polling just 1,011,527 votes which made a  28.5 per cent share of total votes polled. The BJP, however, fell short in Kashmir Valley,  managing to get only 2.96 per cent of votes  which is slightly higher than 1.33 per cent as compared to the 2014 polls.

Where do we go from here? Come Assembly polls, Bhartiya Janata Party  will hope to considerably scale up its political standing in J&K The Hindutva party has ambitious plans up its sleeve, seeking even to become a majority partner in the new government. Riding on the still strong Modi magic, BJP is working hard to sweep Jammu, poach into Ladakh and even foray into Kashmir where it hopes to use the boycott factor to its advantage by seeking to harness minority votes. More so, in the constituencies where these votes can be decisive in outcome in the event of a boycott. 

BJP has sought to work to a plan.The party hopes that Modi’s charisma will go a long way to help it win a majority of 37 seats in Jammu, win at least two seats out of four in Ladakh  and also expect some windfall in Valley. This attempt at political engineering has made parties like   National Conference, PDP and even Congress chary. Their fear is legitimate.  BJP with its stars in the ascendance and having already proved its mettle in the recent Lok Sabha pols poses a daunting challenge. While this promises a very interesting electoral contest, there is a fear that the attempts will be made to polarize the state along communal lines, to ensure consolidation of the vote-banks. And this is something all the political parties in the state will need to guard against. Failure to do so will not only vitiate the political environment of the state but also further fray the state’s social fabric. But more than that is the fear what the BJP’s possible emergence as the largest single party would entail for the state. It is time that the political parties take a step back and reflect over it. 


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