Two months after abrogation of J&K’s special status, the BJP won only 81 of 280 blocks that went to the polls in the Block Development Council (BDC) elections in J&K held under tight security on Thursday.
The BJP was the only major political party in fray, with the National Conference, PDP and Congress staying away to protest detention of their leaders and curbs imposed on the people following the Centre’s August 5 decision.
The saffron party managed to get only about a third of the blocks in its stronghold of Jammu division, winning 52 of 148 blocks. Panthers Party won eight, and Independents were elected chairpersons in remaining 88 BDCs.
The BJP had won 25 of 37 Assembly seats from Jammu division in 2014 elections.
The party won 18 blocks out of 137 in Kashmir Valley.
EXPLAINED | What makes J&K block elections unique
State Chief Electoral Office (CEO) Shailendra Kumar released the results on Thursday evening. “Of total 316 blocks, elections were to be held for 307 blocks. Since candidates on 27 seats were elected unopposed, polling was held on 280 blocks,” Kumar told the media in Srinagar. “The BJP has won 81 blocks, INC (Indian National Congress) one and JKNPP eight. Independents secured 217 blocks”.
In the Valley, panches and sarpanches, the electorate for the polls, were brought to polling stations in bulletproof mobile police bunker vehicles.
CEO Kumar said around 26,000 panches and sarpanches cast their votes, and more than 98 per cent polling was recorded.
At Kakapora, over a hundred security personnel surrounded the single-storey “Panchayat Ghar”. In the first hour-and-a-half, all nine voters had cast their votes, eight of them Kashmiri Pandit migrants belonging to two families.
Manoj Pandita (50), a Kashmiri Pandit who contested for BJP and lost to Independent candidate Umar Jan, said: “I contested for development of my village.”
Pandita, originally from Lajoora village in Pulwama who lives in Jammu and recently shifted to valley, said, “When I visited my village last year, nothing had changed. There was no development; the village high school founded in 1960 has not been upgraded through all these years.”
In north Kashmir’s Sumbal block, five candidates – one BJP and four Independents — were in fray, and by the end of scheduled poll time of 1 pm all 37 votes had been cast. “While we have filed a party candidate here, we are supporting an Independent candidate,” BJP’s sarpanch from Asham Abdul Rashid Khan said. “Some panches and sarpanches were wary of contesting on BJP tickets, so we allowed them to file nomination as Independents.”
Reserved for women, BJP’s Ruheena Jan was elected as chairperson of Bhagat Kanipora block of central Kashmir’s Budgam, on the outskirts of Srinagar city, defeating independent candidate by two votes. Of 32 votes polled in the block, Ruheena secured 11.
In Jammu district’s 20 blocks, spread over 11 Assembly constituencies (nine of them won by the BJP in 2014 Assembly polls), BJP candidates were declared elected at nine. In Kathua district’s 19 blocks spread over five constituencies, all of which had elected BJP candidates in 2014 Assembly polls, BJP won only nine. The remaining 10 went to Independents.
Sources said BJP candidates for Nagri and Jugan blocks won by one vote each.
In Udhampur district, BJP won four out of 17 blocks. It failed to win any of the three blocks in Vijaypur Assembly constituency in Samba district, which was represented by BJP minister Chander Parkash Ganga in 2014. Ganga was among the J&K ministers who were made to resign from the then PDP-BJP coalition following widespread public criticism for supporting family members of the accused in Kathua rape and murder case last year.
In Reasi’s 12 blocks, BJP won four; two out of nine in Ramban; five out of 12 in Doda; seven of 13 blocks in Kishtwar districts. In Kishtwar district’s Palmar block, BJP candidate, after ending tied with an Independent candidate, was declared elected through a toss.
In Rajouri district’s 19 blocks, BJP candidates won at eight places, and the party failed to open its account in Poonch district, with Independents winning in all 11 blocks.
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