Independents shine at cost of NC, PDP
JAMMU, Oct 21: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged major beneficiary in just concluded Urban Local Bodies elections in Jammu and Kashmir as its strength went up three times as compared to last Municipal elections held in the State during the year 2005. Significantly, the BJP strength, which hitherto was confined to Jammu region only, has also gone up considerably in Kashmir, albeit mainly due to the absence of National Conference and PDP from the poll arena as they had decided to boycott the elections.
The Congress, on the other, fared badly in Jammu region but managed to increase its strength in Kashmir in the absence of NC and PDP. However, the Congress has registered impressive gains in Ladakh region at the cost of BJP and NC, where it emerged the major force in both districts of Leh and Kargil.
An analysis of total seats won by political parties and Independent candidates in all three regions of the State including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh by the Excelsior revealed that the absence of National Conference and PDP was more exploited by the BJP than the Congress, which would have been the natural beneficiary of the boycott call of two mainstream parties.
The BJP seats in Urban Local Bodies went up to 312 out of 1144 Wards as against just 105 in 2005 when the last Municipal elections were held in the State. In 2005, all 105 seats of the BJP had come from Jammu region. This time, however, the BJP doubled its tally in Jammu region winning 212 Wards and bagged additional 100 seats in Kashmir, taking it’s totally tally in the ULBs to 312. It emerged as single largest party.
Congress, on the other, went down to 110 seats this time as against 171 won by it in 2005. However, it too cashed-in on the absence of National Conference and PDP and took its tally in Kashmir from 68 in 2005 and 157 in 2018.
Congress bagged all 13 seats in Leh and six out of 13 in Kargil. Seven seats in Kargil were bagged by Independents.
The Independent candidates too gained a lot in the absence of National Conference and PDP with number of the Independent winners believed to be the proxies of these two parties. In Jammu region, the number of Independents rose heavily from 67 in 2005 to 185 in 2018 and in Kashmir from 50 to 178.
The Jammu and Kashmir Nationalist Panthers Party, however, went down to 13 Wards this time as compared to 15 of last year.
In 2005 elections, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had won 176 Wards including 142 in Kashmir and 34 in Jammu while National Conference had captured 133 seats, 85 of which came from Kashmir and 48 from Jammu region. Others had won 37 seats in 2005 as against three this time.
In 2005 election, PDP had emerged as single largest party in Kashmir winning 142 Wards as against 85 of Kashmir and 68 of Congress. There were 50 Independents and 31 others. BJP had drawn blank.
In Jammu region, Congress was the largest party in 2005 winning 171 seats followed by BJP’s 105. Independents had won 67 seats, National Conference 48, PDP 34, JKNPP 15 and there were 6 Others.
In 2005 election, the Urban Local Bodies had 858 Wards while in 2018, number of the Wards had gone up to 1145. Election in one Ward in Ramban district was countermanded due to death of BJP candidate Azad Singh Raju in Ward No. 2 due to cardiac arrest on the day of voting.
In 2005, there were 446 Wards in Jammu and 412 in Kashmir. However, in 2018, the number of Wards went up to 520 in Jammu and 624 in Kashmir.
Nearly 184 seats remained vacant in Kashmir in the absence of any single nomination filed for them.