While BJP maintained its status quo in Jammu, five years after it ascended to Delhi throne, it’s the grand old party National Conference replacing its rival Peoples Democratic Party in Kashmir in 2019. Between Now and Then lie the barking faultlines and the lingering expectations for a breakthrough in the Kashmir deadlock.
If 2014 was historic, 2019 is an absolute repeat of that history for BJP. So much so that it prompted National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah to say ‘all that is left is to congratulate them for a stellar performance’.
“Bring on the next five years,” he added in a tweet.
Schooled in Vajpayee-era BJP, Abdullah Jr’s remarks came soon after NDA’s massive poll sweep across India.
On the other hand, Mehbooba Mufti, BJP’s former ally in a way mocked Congress and asked them to get an ‘Amit Shah’.
“Congratulations to Narendra Modi ji for a historic mandate,” the PDP chief tweeted. “Today surely belongs to BJP and its allies. Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah.”
Despite racking up ‘soft separatism’ and emerging Modi-led NDA government’s new nemesis in the valley out of power, Mehbooba ended up losing her bastion.
She stood third from Anantnag parliamentary seat—which witnessed three-phase polling. Surprisingly, it was a retired judge dethroning the seasoned politician whose debut came from the beleaguered grassroots of the south, some 23 years ago.
With Mehbooba’s defeat, many say, chickens have come home to roost for the PDP now.
Notably, it was Hasnain Masoodi’s backyard—Pampore and Khrew—the traditional NC mainstay playing a decisive role. It polled highest 5.26% in the low-turnout polling for the seat.
Even the supposedly pro-PDP Devsar couldn’t come to the rescue of the party. Besides, Mehbooba’s fiery opposition avatar, daring Delhi to touch Article 35-A and render Accession null and void, couldn’t prevent her ballot fall.
“I’ve been fortunate to get the love & affection of my people,” Mehbooba tweeted her take on the verdict. “They have every right to express their anger for my failings. Accept their verdict with humility. Congratulations to winning candidates from NC. I’m grateful to my party workers & colleagues.”
On the other hand, veteran unionist Dr. Farooq Abdullah, bereft of 2014 competition from the kingslayer Tariq Karra, retained the Srinagar seat, like a cakewalk.
Soon after his win, Abdullah Sr expressed hope that the new Government in New Delhi will do justice with Kashmir and engage in a dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.
“This Parliament will not be easy,” the NC president, speaking to reporters at Nawai Subha soon after his win, said. “There are several important issues with respect to J-K because we have to fight them on their intention to do away with the Article 370 and 35-A. Another issue is that they want to divide the Muslims and Hindus in the country; we have to fight that as well.”
But while Srinagar had Abdullah written all over it, northern Kashmir gave some initial signs of fight. It was NC’s newsy politician from Hajin, Mohammad Akbar Lone facing a momentary tough fight from former lawmaker of Langate.
While the verdict was more or less predicted in the valley, the surprise element was that of AIP Chief Engineer Rashid. The outspoken lawmaker’s vote share greatly surged in this election, making him assert that no one can stop AIP now from becoming the ‘real alternative’ against the existing political forces in the valley.
“The spirit of democracy needs to be respected and all those who have won the elections deserve congratulations,” Rashid said in a statement. “However AIP has proved all political analysis wrong and has shown excellent performance by improving its performance beyond imagination. Those who used to accuse AIP of dividing votes should realize that party was not there to divide votes but to give a befitting fight.”
In the state’s winter capital, the BJP maintained its firm grip on the twin—Jammu and Udhampur—seats.
“The verdict is clear,” said a NC leader, on the sidelines of a presser called in wake of the party’s Kashmir hatrick, “while the majority has given the mandate to hate, Kashmir has voted for autonomy.”
But what has Jammu voted for, is now going to be the next immediate challenge for the ‘political plough’ in the ‘saffron’ parliament.
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