It was almost Jammu and Ladakh versus Kashmir in Jammu and Kashmir, as BJP won the two seats from Jammu and the lone Ladakh seat, while the National Conference (NC) won the three seats of Kashmir Valley.
The BJP, in its manifesto, had promised to abrogate the special status provided to J&K by Indian Constitution through Articles 370 and 35-A. The NC — like the PDP — promised to fight attempts at changing this, as also work for getting more autonomy for J&K.
Raising concern over the verdict, NC vice-president Omar Abdullah noted that it “doesn’t bode well that votes are divided down the middle in the state, and that’s something we are going to have to address”.
In Jammu, Union minister Jitendra Singh was re-elected from Udhampur, defeating Congress’s Vikramaditya Singh, while BJP’s Jugal Kishore retained Jammu seat, defeating Congress’s Raman Bhalla. In Ladakh, BJP’s J T Namgyal won against Sajjad Hussain, an Independent supported by both NC and PDP.
Even though NC and PDP lent support to Congress candidates in the two seats in Jammu division, the victory margin of all three BJP candidates increased significantly this time. Rebel BJP leader and two-time state minister Chaudhary Lal Singh, who floated Dogra Swabhiman Sangthan before the elections and backed demands for CBI inquiry into the rape and murder of a young girl in Jammu last year, polled only 18,000 and 6,486 votes in Udhampur and Jammu constituencies, respectively.
After his victory, Jitendra Singh said the journey of development that began under Prime Minister Narendra Modi will continue.In Kashmir, the PDP, which won all three seats in the Valley in 2014, came a cropper this time, with party chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti finishing third in Anantnag. Mufti had won from the constituency in 2014.
NC president Farooq Abdullah, who won the Srinagar, said: “We have to fight for protection of the country’s secular visage. The mammoth task before us is to put up a strong front against forces inimical to J&K’s special status.”
Conceding her defeat, Mufti tweeted, “I’ve been fortunate to get the love & affection of my people. They have every right to express their anger for my failings. Accept their verdict with humility…” NC’s Hasnain Masoodi won from Anantnag despite limited campaigning.
Former Speaker of J&K Assembly Mohammad Akbar Lone won from Baramulla.