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Posted at: Feb 11, 2019, 7:37 AM; last updated: Feb 11, 2019, 10:29 AM (IST)EAR TO THE GROUND: ELECTION 2019

Regional vs national parties on cards, shift in J&K poll dynamics

Regional vs national parties on cards, shift in J&K poll dynamics

Sumit Hakhoo

Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 10

Political dynamics have significantly changed in Jammu and Kashmir after the 2014 elections. The 2019 LS and Assembly polls, if held simultaneously, will see multi-corner dimensional between two national parties (Congress and BJP) and two regional parties (PDP and National Conference).

A rejuvenated Sajjad Lone-led Peoples Conference (PC) after the entry of several disgruntled PDP MLAs and the surprise decision of Shah Faesal to quit the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and enter politics has added yet another dimension to the electoral battle in the state.

The state has been under President’s rule since December 19, 2018. After a high-voltage drama, Governor Satya Pal Malik  dissolved the Legislative Assembly on November 21, 2018, which was in suspended animation since June 19, 2018, after the PDP-BJP coalition fell apart. Rising on the Modi wave in 2014, the BJP made significant inroads in the Jammu division, cutting the Congress and NC to size.

The BJP is fighting to retain two Lok Sabha seats and 25 Assembly segments which it won in Jammu and the Muslim-majority areas of the erstwhile district of Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar during the 2014 Assembly polls. A divided Congress is banking on anti-incumbency to turn tables on the BJP.

For the PDP and NC, the fight in the Jammu division is for seats in erstwhile Doda district comprising Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar and the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri . In the Valley,  NC and PD are the main contenders. The Congress is struggling to retain its traditional seats, especially in South Kashmir. 

“Holding polls together is possible, but the problem is political. Will the parties be ready, especially the BJP,” asked KB Jandyal, former Director Information, J&K. 

The fragile security situation in Kashmir continues to weigh on Election Commission’s mind. There have been no elections in Anantnag  because of unabated violence. Byelection for the Pulwama-Anantnag parliamentary seat was scheduled to be held in May 2017 but was deferred after violence during the Srinagar bypoll in April 2017. Elections have not be held since then.

Simultaneous polls?

The Election Commission of India is yet to decide on holding parliamentary and Assembly elections together in J&K. Though political parties publicly favour simultaneous polls, the BJP, Congress, PDP and NC leadership is not getting the required support from party workers.

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