Division Dividend

At least a dozen seats were won by BJP, independents and Apni Part because of the infighting within PAGD and its failure to take its understanding with Congress seriously, reports Tasavur Mushtaq

BJP Kashmir unit Sunday facilitated newly District Development Council (DDC) members. Pic: Internet

In Kashmir’s tense PAGD, the latest political grapevine is that the BJP was obliged by the institutions to make its entry in Kashmir. The leaders do not speak on the record but they say it clearly that managing Tulail located on the Line of Control did not require any high voltage campaigning. As for the Khonmoh where an engineer, Ajaz Rather won for BJP, they credit the Jammu and Kashmir administration that “rejected” the nomination papers of a PAGD nominee.

The PAGD does not talk about the third seat that BJP won, in Pulwama. A young law student whose father migrated from Congress to BJP gave BJP a major victory in the heart of a restive belt. This seat was literally the PAGD gift to the BJP.

PAGD sources said the mandate was given to PDP. Later, NC also filed nomination papers. Before them, BJP had given the mandate to Minha Lateef. There were only three candidates in the fray. There were quite a few votes as well. PDP polled 350, NC polled 188 and Minha moved with the title after securing 364, only 14 votes more than the PDP. Had they stayed with the alliance spirit, they would have won it hands down.

An aerial view of Kishtwar

Political has rarely seen the situations as their voters perceive them. In politics, every crisis is an opportunity. This holds basic for the Kashmir political class that has survived in the division throughout. Deep insecurities at individual and party levels were the key factors forcing them to field proxies against official PAGD nominees. Only one person exhibited a rear trait – he campaigned for PAGD, not for his party.

In north Kashmir, a former cabinet minister invited his coterie home only to tell them that he has nominated a particular person as his proxy and they must silently vote for him. After listening to him a great deal, one of his relatives responded: “Auz Teh Heatchiv Nah”. He told him on his face that while he has been obliging him throughout, he will not vote for his shadow candidate. This encouraged all others to walk out of his home.

It was primarily this reason, why the PAGD restricted its number to a modest 110. The number could have gone beyond. The infighting within PAGD was the key factor why a number of independents managed to win with better margins across Kashmir. Some of them might return to their parties but most of them would build their own futures as they are already rehabilitated for five years.

Unlike Kashmir, the PAGD prospects were seriously compromised by the Congress, a party that stands banished from Jammu and Kashmir’s Hindu belt and has taken refuge in the majority population pockets. Congress being a national party has to be quite responsive to the criticism that BJP manufactures for it.

In Srinagar, it started as a PAGD constituent. Till the first list of nominations was out, Congress was taking its fair share. As BJP upped its ante in Delhi, Congress – unlike CPI (M), was not seen around Gupkar. It did not make a huge impact in Kashmir but in parts of Jammu, mostly in the Muslim belts, it literally worked as BJP’s support team.

Asim Hashmi with the certificate of his electoral win. He defeated BJP leader Shakti Raj Parihar.

Doda was the worst sufferer of Congress politics. Though the local NC leaders did suggest the Congress to reach an understanding on seas where they can offset the impact of bad DDC cartography, local Congress chieftains were unrelenting. See how it helped the BJP.

In Baghwa, BJP’s Jaya Rani polled 4782 votes and took the seat. This could only happen after Congress’s Shameema Akhter polled 4380 and NC’s Ashu Kumari got 1102 votes. Put together, they had 5482 votes in their pocket.

In Bhaderwah (E), there were 12 candidates in the fray. BJP’s DhanaterSingh polled 3740 votes and won the seat. NC’s Sajad Ali Mir ended runner up with 3393 votes as Congress’s Kulbushan polled 510 votes. Even CPI got 63 votes.

There were six individuals in the fray in Bhalla. Sangeeta Rani Baghat polled 5519 votes and bagged the seat for BJP. Who were the next two: Congress’s Lalita Devi with 5186 votes and NC’s Kamlesha Devi with 1417 votes.

Kastigarh was not different where six candidates fought a pitched battle. Santosha Devi took it for the BJP after polling 4353 votes. Congress and NC almost polled equal votes – 2966 and 2854 respectively. Put together, it was much more than BJP.

Thathri was also a classic case. There were 10contestants. Sandeep Singh of BJP won by polling 4770 votes. NC’s Shameem Ahmad polled 3098 and was a runner up and Congress’s Mohammad Altaf Butt got 2501 to finish at No 3.

Neighbouring Kishtwar performed very well but still, they had a similar crisis in Drabashaa where ten candidates were in the fray. The seat was eventually won by BJP’s Ashok Kumar Parihar. Congress’s Dewan Chand Tahkur was the runner up with 2406 votes and NC’s Mohammad Iqbal lost despite having 1716 votes.

In the neighbouring Ramban, it did not help the BJP but teh trend existed and worked for others. In Banihal, the winner was Rabia Hamid who polled 3349 votes. She was contesting independently. Congress’s Misbah Bashir polled 2544 and NC’s Musrat Manzoor got 1616. It is too early to predict if at all will Rabia ever join either of the two parties she defeated?

Ramshoo, also in Ramban, followed the same pattern. There were eight contestants in the fray. The seat was taken by an independent candidate Fayaz Ahmad Naik who polled 2653 votes. Congress’s Abdul Rashid Munhas finished second by polling 2110 votes and the NC’s Mushtaq Ahmad Sohil was at No 3 with 1201 votes.

It was almost the same situation in Reasi’s two DDC berths. In Chassana where five women were in the fray in the female reserve seat. Apni Party’s Yasmeena scored 3730 votes and won. NC’s Shahnaz Akhter ended as runner up with 2588 votes. Though Congress’s Gulla Bano was distant with 1365 votes, the NC-Congress combine could have done it otherwise.

In Pouni, the same situation helped BJP. There were four contestants in the fray in the reserved female berth. BJP’s Rita Sharma polled 4771 and won. NC’s Anju Devi had polled 4226 and Congress’s Jyoti Devi had polled 1542.

It was almost the same trend that helped an independent, Riyaz Choudhary, to win in Loran (Poonch). There was not NC around. PDP’s official candidate Shamim Ahmad polled 1760 votes and the party’s former lawmaker, Shah Mohammad Tantray polled 2898.

Most of these seats, PAGD insiders said, were the cost that Jammu and Kashmir paid to keep the secularism alive.

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