Showing BJP the way out, Independents win heavily in BDC elections: J&K

BJP’s battle-cry over the abrogation of Article 370 did not translate into support


In the first major electoral activity after the abrogation of Article 370 that revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the elections results of the Block Development Council (BDC) have thrown up a bitter surprise for the BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP), The Tribune reported.

Independents swept the elections by winning a majority in 217 blocks out of the total 307 where polling was conducted. The state witnessed 98.3% polling where apart from the independents winning 217 blocks, BJP won 81, J&K National Panthers Party won eight and Congress won one.

The indirect election which is conducted through voting by an Electoral College comprising panchs and sarpanchs saw Srinagar with the highest turnout at 100 percent and the lowest was registered at Shopian with 85.3 percent.

The BJP had fielded 135 candidates in Jammu from which only 52 managed to win. In Kashmir, out of its 60 candidates only 18 managed to clinch a victory. Eight of these wins have come from the militant hotbed of south Kashmir’s Shopian district, where most of the candidates in the fray are Kashmiri Pandits living as migrants in Jammu.

Given that BJP had emerged as the single largest party in the 2014 Assembly elections, where it had emerged as the single largest party from Jammu with 25 seats. It had also earlier swept the 2014 LokSabha polls and had won all the three parliamentary constituencies of Jammu in the 2019 LokSabha polls as well, the current BDC elections come as a significant loss to the party.

The BDC elections were boycotted by the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). NC’s two former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar have been in detention since the restrictions imposed on the state on August 5. PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti too has been in detention since then. The Congress and CPI (M) too did not participate in the elections leaving the field open to the BJP.

Many unaware
Firstpost reported that locals seemed indifferent to the polling. It said that with communications services still not restored, many locals seemed puzzled when asked about the BDC elections.

There was also a show of anger among locals with them dismissing the elections and the candidates. Not only that, there were some panchs and sarpanchs who were staying away from their native villages in government-rented private hotels due to the fear of militants.

Abdul Rashid Khan, a sarpanch affiliated with BJP in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district said, “We can’t stay at home for the night. One has to be under protection of the police or be at some safer location. If the government can assure security of sarpanchs and BDC chairpersons at least, that can be helpful.”

The dawn of a new grassroots level democracy
“We are very happy to become part of history by taking part in the first-ever BDC polls in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a step toward a new dawn of grassroots-level democracy in the state,” said Sanjeev Kumar, a panch of Pandora border panchayat (Samba) to The Quint.

The 98.3 percent voting in the BDC elections showed the enthusiasm of the candidates who felt ready and empowered to boost development of rural areas.

The current results of independents grabbing the majority in the BDC elections has come as a mighty blow to the arrogance of the BJP. Its unilateral decision about the matter on Jammu and Kashmir, the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the over-confidence of its leaders has eroded its already flailing trust factor. Also, after the tough fight given to it by the opposition to it in the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections, the BJP is now sure to find itself on shaky ground.

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