North, South and Centre |………the countdown begins

Though the expected results for the three constituencies of Kashmir  are  well understood but the interesting part will be  to watch how much erosion PDP has suffered in its home ground of Anantnag and how much ground  a resurgent PC will gain in North Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency.

The Parliament elections are over and now the country will be anxiously waiting for the final outcome of this 45 days long exercise on May 23rd. At national level though BJP is looking confident that it will regain the power for next five years as maximum exit polls have also predicted that NDA will return to power. But the fact remains that exit polls in the past have not proved so accurate and many times final results were  reverse  as were predicted in exit polls.  Despite exit polls many believe that the NDA may cross 230 mark but will remain well short of 275 halfway mark. It is in this perspective that opposition parties have launched a massive exercise for formation of an anti BJP front at centre which are led by  Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Mr Chanderbabu Naidu.

In J&K things have taken a U-turn since 2014. In 2014 BJP and PDP won 3 seats each from J&K. PDP got all three from Kashmir while as BJP got jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh. But the political landscape in Kashmir valley has changed altogether after PDP aligned with BJP to form the State Govt which has now proved to be suicidal for the party. The party is fighting the battle of its survival in the area once known as its birthplace and where no other party was in a position to take on it. Though the party president Mehbooba Mufti has shown utmost  courage and put a brave face  in the most challenging circumstances by opting to fight for  Anantnag constituency, but the prospectus of party seem bleak and it is expected that the Congress will win this seat comfortably. However in this constituency it will be interesting to watch  will the PDP be able to retain slot number two or it will be pushed down further to the third rank by NC candidate Hasnanin Masoodi . Srinagar is a foregone conclusion and NC will wrest this seat without any difficulty as the party does not face any formidable challenge from any other party in this constituency. In Baramulla though NC will be the front runner but it will be interesting to watch the performance of Sajad Lone’s Peoples conference which is likely to take the No 2 spot in this constituency. The emergence of PC as a major political force in Baramulla will be of utmost significance in the next assembly elections and thus it may not be a cakewalk for NC in assembly elections if held in Oct-Nov as it was seen earlier during winter when PDP was losing not only  its popular leaders but its mass appeal too. To rope in a number of leaders from various sections of society , PC’s Sajad Lone has adopted the same strategy which was once adopted by late Mufti Sayeed to take on NC. Thus within 6-7 months , Sajad lone has made PC a major political force in North Kashmir . PDP which had won this seat in 2014 by fielding its veteran leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig may be pushed to spot no 3 or even 4 this time as its candidate has neither any experience not any mass support as PDP’s  is in shambles and it will take the party several years  to regroup and take the lead  again in this constituency. The  impact of Dr Shah Faisal on young voters will also be interesting factor to watch who has supported  Er Rashid from this constituency. If Er Rashid sets at Spot 3 and pushes PDP to spot 4 , it will be a significant development.

In Jammu the BJP has its edge though the margin of wining will be lesser this time. In Udhampur the results are unpredictable  as in comparison to 2014 , a lot more developments have taken place this time. The nomination of Vikram Aditya Singh  who is son of veteran congress leader Dr Karan Singh as congress candidate will give him access to Rajput votes in the constituency  as well while as the candidature of Lal Singh, who is seen as a proxy of Dr Karan Singh may do a lot more damage to BJP’s nationalist and communal vote bank. The absence of NC and PDP from the political scene this time also gives some edge to congress. Panthers party will take away a good vote chunk in this constituency which has fielded Harsh Dev Singh. Further the other issues the BJP is facing at National level will also contribute in decline of its vote share in comparison to what it got in 2014.Thus it seems a neck to neck fight between BJP and congress and  it can go either way.

In Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency , which BJP  had won by a narrow margin of 36 votes in 2014 but has failed to make any significant inroads thereafter. The first setback to BJP came after the resignation of the sitting MP Thupstan Chhewang in November 2018 over the party’s “unfulfilled promises” and “betrayal”. The second setback to the BJP came to the fore when the party failed to even grab a single seat in Kargil and Leh civic body polls in October 2018. While Congress grabbed all the 13 seats in Leh and 6 seats in Kargil. In  Ladakh parliamentary constituency  , which has  only  about 1,71000  voters, situation  is not clear yet as both the vote banks of Buddhist  majority Leh and Muslim Majority Kargil remain divided. It may go to independent candidate Sajad Hussain  supported by  islamia school  if Kargil  has voted en-mass for him but can also go to congress if Leh has voted en-mass for congress. In this constituency both Leh & Kargil face same problem as Buddhist  votes are divided between BJP & congress as both of them belong to Leh while as Muslim votes are divided between Sajad Hussain & Asgar Karbalaie who is supported by Imam Khomanie Memorial trust.

As Kashmir will be watching the results of North , South & central Kashmir  Kashmir , the entire country will also be watching how a dominant South India  will re-group with various parties of North and other regions  to  stop  BJP  from forming a government at the centre.