The BJP dominated the Jammu Municipal Corporation while the Congress emerged the single largest party in the Valley and Ladakh Saturday as results to the Jammu and Kashmir urban local bodies election were announced. In an election conducted amid a boycott by the NC and PDP and marred by a low voter turnout, independent candidates took the lead in Srinagar Municipal Corporation and won the most wards across Kashmir, where the BJP managed to make inroads too.
While the BJP emerged the clear winner in the JMC, securing 43 seats in the 75-member body against the Congress’s 26, the party lost ground in its urban strongholds, particularly in Kathua district, Chenab Valley region and Rajouri’s Kalakote area, where independents made big gains. In the 520 urban local body wards in Jammu, the BJP won 212, followed by independents (185) and Congress (110) and Panthers Party (13). While Congress is set to lead 12 municipal bodies in Kashmir, the BJP for the first time will lead six municipal bodies in the Valley, in the absence of competition from NC and PDP.
But in Srinagar, independent candidates took the lead with 49 out of the 66 wards that went to polls, 12 Congress candidates were declared winners while the BJP was pushed to the third position with four seats in the new corporation.
The party, however, had reason to cheer with big gains in Ladakh, where the BJP won the parliamentary seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The Congress Saturday won all 13 wards in the Leh municipal committee and bagged five wards in Kargil, where independents won eight.
The Congress also won two of three municipal councils of the valley – Anantnag and Baramulla – while BJP candidates won unopposed from seven seats of the Sopore municipal council. The Congress is also set to lead three municipal committees each in north and central Kashmir. The party has taken a lead in Uri, Hajin and Bandipore municipal committees. In Uri that polled 75 per cent of votes – the highest in the Valley – Congress has bagged six of 13 seats while seven were won by independents.
But it is in south Kashmir where BJP has reason to cheer. While Congress won three municipal committees, the BJP won five municipal committees – Qazigund, Pahalgam, Mattan, Devsar and Shopian. The BJP also won a municipal committee – Watergam – in north Kashmir where voting was carried out only in one ward and seven party candidates were elected unopposed.
In Kathua district of Jammu, which is part of the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency represented by Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO, the BJP won in five of the 13 wards of Basohli town, with Congress and independents emerging victorious at four wards each. Similarly, of the 21 wards of Kathua municipal council, the BJP and independents won eight each and the Congress secured five.
In Nagri, independents were elected at six wards, followed by BJP (5) and Congress (2), while four wards in Lakhanpur went to independents and BJP (3). The only saving grace where the party could have a chairman of its own was Hiranagar town where BJP won at seven places.
Similarly, in Chenab Valley comprising Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts where it had won four of the six Assembly seats in 2014, BJP except for Batote municipal committee lost to independents and Congress at most places.
(With inputs from Naveed Iqbal)