The BJP won 72 District Development Council (DDC) seats out of the total 140 that went to polls in the Jammu division, but suffered defeats in some of its key strongholds.
Out of the 10 districts in Jammu region, the BJP has got a comfortable majority to have its chairperson in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Doda. In Doda, though it won in eight of the 14 DDC constituencies, its main face and former minister Shakti Raj Parihar lost from both Gundana and Marmat constituencies.
The BJP won only three out of the 14 constituencies in Kishtwar district. In the 2014 Assembly election, the BJP’s Sunil Sharma was elected from the Kishtwar Assembly constituency and was also sworn-in as a minister in the PDP-BJP government. Also, the district is part of the Udhampur parliamentary constituency, which has been represented by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh since 2014.
In the Rajouri district, where the BJP won two out of the four Assembly segments in the 2014 election, the party won three DDC seats out of the 14 that went to polls, suffering defeat in some key strongholds.
The BJP lost Kalakote to NC’s Anita Thakur and Nowshera to PDP’s Manohar Singh. Kalakote was won by the BJP’s Abdul Gani Kohli — also a minister in the PDP-BJP government — and Nowshera by the party’s UT president Ravinder Raina in the 2014 Assembly election.
The BJP swept the Jammu district, winning 11 out of the 14 DDC seats. However, senior leader and former minister Sham Lal Choudhary lost to an Independent Taranjit Singh Tony in Suchetgarh. The BJP lost in its stronghold Marh, where its candidate Vandana Kumari was defeated by Independent candidate Balbir Lal.
Marh had elected the BJP’s Sukhnandan Choudhary twice and he was sworn-in as cabinet minister in the PDP-BJP government formed after the 2014 Assembly polls.
Union Ministers Smriti Irani, V K Singh, Anurag Thakur and Jitendra Singh, and party spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain were among the senior BJP leaders who had campaigned across Jammu division in the run up to the maiden DDC polls in the Union Territory.
Leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration had alleged that they had not been allowed to move out for campaigning.
The defeat of former ministers Sham Lal Choudhary and Shakti Raj Parihar points to resentment among the people over unfulfilled promises on the development front after the two were elected in the 2014 Assembly elections, said a BJP leader, requesting anonymity.
Union Minister Thakur, who was in charge of the BJP campaign, said in reply to a question that one of the two former ministers had lost by just 11 votes. He said 51 per cent of the 57 lakh electorate had cast their vote in the DDC elections. This shows that people came out to vote braving cold and militants’ threats, he said, adding, “It is a big victory’’.
Thakur said people had voted for the policies of the Narendra Modi government and said these will usher in a new era of development in Jammu and Kashmir.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines