BJP makes gains in Valley as Congress sweeps Leh in Jammu and Kashmir local polls
For the first, saffron party makes inroads in the restive region .
The BJP has, for the first time, managed to win seats in Kashmir councils and committees in the four-phase elections to local bodies, counting for which began early on Saturday amid tight security at various centres.
The Congress won two prominent municipal councils of Kashmir, while most of the independent candidates bagged seats in Srinagar Municipal Corporation. The BJP emerged victorious in the Jammu Municipal Corporation. The elections saw abysmal voter turnout with just over 4 % of them casting their votes in Kashmir while Ladakh and Jammu regions saw good participation.
In Jammu Municipal Corporation, the BJP emerged as a single largest party, signalling that its base in urban Jammu is still intact. However, the BJP candidates could just win four seats in Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Party leaders claim that many independent candidates who emerged victorious in Srinagar Corporation elections are affiliated with party allies.
Of the total 74 wards in the SMC, eight were uncontested. In 66 wards, independents won in 49 wards, Congress won in 12 wards and BJP in four wards. “BJP won in 97 wards in d Kashmir Valley for first time and secured maximum wins in Baramulla (25), Anantnag (29) and Shopian (12),” tweeted BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. In Baramulla Municipal Council, Congress won 12, while BJP stood second with six seats in 21 member council. In South Kashmir’s Anantnag Municipal Council, Congress bagged 20 out of 23 wards while the BJP won in three wards.
In Uri, the Congress won six wards, while independents managed to secure victory in 7 wards in the 13-member committee. BJP couldn’t win a single seat there. In Watergam, BJP won eight seats unopposed and one seat was bagged by an independent candidate. In Bandipore Municipal Committee, the Congress bagged 13 seats out of 17 seats. In North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, independents affiliated with Sajjad Lone’s Peoples Conference and Riyaz Ahmad Mir, won most of the seats.
In neighbouring Handwara, all 13 seats were won by independent candidates affiliated with Sajjad Lone. The BJP managed most of the seats in Shopian (12) and Pulwama as no elections were held there. In Leh Municipality, Congress swept all the 13 seats. The party won five wards in Kargil while independents won nine seats. The BJP drew a blank in Leh and Kargil Municipal area. In Devsar municipal committee, the BJP won all the eight seats.
The BJP got a simple majority in Qazigund Municipal Committee, winning four of the seven wards. In Pahalgam municipal committee, the party won seven of the 13 seats uncontested.
Two big mainstream parties NC and the PDP had stayed away from these polls blaming the government for linking the case of Article 35A of the Constitution with the local body and panchayat elections. Separatist groups and militants had asked people to boycott these polls. Kashmir witnessed 4.2 % polling while Ladakh and Jammu recorded 62.1 and 68.7 % polling, respectively.
BJP earned people’s trust: Shah
BJP president Amit Shah said his party had earned the trust of people in J&K with its “impressive” show in the urban local body polls in the state. “These results are a reflection of aspiration of people of Jammu and Kashmir, who want to move away from politics of strife towards PM Modi’s politics of development. I thank them for their continued support and assure them that the BJP will leave no stone unturned to realise their dreams,” he tweeted.