December 7th, 2012

Council results: Introspection time for Jammu parties

At the end of the day, Omar Abdullah has his last laugh over the combined opposition in Jammu and Kashmir.
The outcome of elections to four seats of Legislative Council under Panchayat Raj quota is double victory for the Chief Minister. First, for sweeping the polls after campaigning vigorously for the coalition candidates; second and most importantly, making secessionists and terrorists to lick the dust, as they did during unprecedented Panchayat elections early last year. The overwhelming participation in both Panchayat and Council elections is people’s verdict against the cult of violence perpetrated by Pakistan and her sponsored terrorists and secessionists. They did their worst to scare away electors from booths by threats and intimidation. Much before the elections they unleashed a reign of terror by martyring several elected representative to create fear psychosis. This, however, boomeranged with voters decisively and venomously taking the poll percentage above ninety. The brave Panchs and Sarpanchs have given a befitting reply to separatist brigade and terrorists led by Sallahudin who had issued open threats from Pak occupied Kashmir.
Democracy has triumphed again. Credit for this must go to all the contestants belonging to various parties irrespective of their losing or winning the elections.
Being seen as an exit poll, prior to the big fight scheduled in 2014, the results have sprung surprise for political parties. By all accounts, the outcome is a big setback for Jammu based parties like Bharatya Janata Party and Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party. They stand nowhere. While the debacle of BJP is understandable as it is yet to come out of the trauma it suffered during same Legislative Council elections on 13th April 2011 with allegations of cash for vote against six of the eleven legislators, the performance of JKNPP has been miserably dismal. The young brigade of its legislators has failed to turn the tide in their favour despite playing regional card to the hilt.
People’s Democratic Party has a reason to rejoice notwithstanding the defeat it suffered. Essentially the Kashmir based sub regional party; the PDP seems to have donned the State level mantle by finishing the nearest rival in all the four slots.  It has made significant inroads in the Jammu Division by relegating BJP and JKNPP to secondary positions.
PDP’s emergence should be a cause of concern for the State’s premier National Conference also as it has polled sizable number of votes especially in the Kashmir Valley. One wonders as to what would have been the scenario if NC and Congress had fought the elections independently. Against 8,586 votes polled by Ali Mohammed Dar (NC) the combined candidate of the coalition, the PDP nominee finished with respectable 5,911 votes in the Valley. Similarly, Ghulam Nabi Monga of Congress backed by the two parties got 8,659 votes against 6,094 votes polled by Yasir Reshi. However, it has been a cake walk for Dr Shahnaz Ganai of NC who polled massive 9,070 votes in an area concentrated exclusively by the PDP leadership for several years. Its candidate finished with just 2,153 votes. The argument that religious factor has favoured the coalition in Muslim belts of the region cannot be out rightly ignored. Sham Lal Bhagat of the coalition too has won convincingly.
The matter of concern for Jammu based parties is that they have bagged just 7,251 votes out of 29,686 polled votes for the two seats. This can be a curtain raiser for BJP and JKNPP before the elections to Legislative Assembly in 2014. BJP has not been able to come out of the shock and make good the damage it has received due to infighting and charges of corruption. It is time for the central leadership of the saffron brigade to set right the divided house in order to infuse a new vigour in the party for regaining its lost glory.
Similarly, the ruling coalition will also have to introspect and devise strategies to counter the PDP’s growing influence if it has to remain more than relevant in the 2014 elections. They should not ignore the fact that the single entity of PDP has managed 12,005 votes against 17,245 polled by the coalition candidates. This small margin can make a big tilt in the Assembly elections. Appreciating the ground realities, the Chief Minister has rightly asked the workers of coalition parties not to be complacent with the victory as they have to do more by remaining in touch with the common masses for facing the big fight. “Your real test will be in 2014″, he has said.
There could be no opportune time for the successful elections than now when the Paki sympathisers in the Valley are preparing for Islamabad sojourn to discuss the anti people agenda with death merchants across the borders. They will be going with a heavy heart and the ‘uncomfortable’ burden of the people’s verdict which goes no way in line with their sinister agenda.

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