Days of many political developments

From Kargil to Kashmir, leaders remained busy

A number of developments occurred for last several days on political front in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Some were related to Laddakh Autonomous Hill Development Council ( LAHDC) - Kargil polls and some to other issues.

Senior BJP leader and party general secretary (Organisation) Ashok Koul visited Zanskar, which is part of Kargil district and did election campaigning for his party. He said that large number of local Congress leaders and workers quit their party and joined the BJP. " Zanskar is Congress mukt (free) now," he declared.

National Conference (NC) leaders from Kargil including former minister Qamar Ali Akhoon, presently the Ladakh  head of the party, arrived in Srinagar and met the former chief minister and NC vice president Omar Abdullah. They discussed the preparations for the polls and other related matters. The pre-poll alliance between NC and Congress also came under discussion. As per reports Omar expressed satisfaction over the poll preparations and the alliance with Congress.

In another development the Jammu and Kashmir  and Ladakh High Court directed the Ladakh  administration to notify the allotment of plough symbol to NC in LAHDC- Kargil polls. The High Court directed the party to approach the administration in Ladakh in this connection.

NC was using the plough symbol in all the elections including the assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The party will continue to do so in the future  polls also.

No assembly or Lok Sabha polls were held in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, 2019 when the article 370 was abrogated and J&K state bifurcated into two union territories - J&K as one union territory and Ladakh the other.

The panchayat and urban local bodies (ULBs) polls were held in 2018 last time and at that time NC and PDP did not take part. The two elections will be held after a few months from now and a process has been already set into motion for this purpose. Both the NC and PDP have this time announced to participate.

Established in 2003, the LAHDC- Kargil saw polls being held in 2018 last time. A notification for fresh elections was issued recently and polling will be held on September 10. After the recent high court direction, NC will go into polls there with plough symbol.

NC has been always keen to have the plough as its electoral symbol. It is to be seen how lucky the plough will prove for the party this time in the electoral battle in the cold desert. For decades together, NC's plough had dominated the electoral politics scene  in Jammu and Kashmir. 

NC ruled the state for long by getting absolute majority and at times almost touching the magic number of two- third majority also. During election time the party workers and supporters would decorate city and towns particularly in Kashmir with NC flags, buntings and banners, having the plough symbol.

The rival parties and candidates had to muster lot of courage to put their flags and banners to show their feeble presence. Sometimes, these flags and banners would disappear either during the nights or in broad daylight and the affected politically weak  parties and candidates would prefer not to lodge a protest against the crushing strength of NC at that time.

NC was the party, which for a long time was equally strong in city, towns and villages. The party had opted for the plough symbol because of the popularity of its land reforms and also since its leadership felt that the huge population living in villages, had an emotional attachment with plough.

They believed that at the time of voting  the farmers would not like to "betray the plough symbol" for obvious reasons even if some of them wanted to vote for other parties. But with time this idea seemed getting weakened as NC as a party started getting  weak and losing its strong base to other parties.

More than the emotional  attachment with plough , it was the performance of NC governments, which mattered to the voters in the subsequent elections. In a way the voters started becoming practical and logical. This led to NC and its leaders losing elections and political power also.

Political observers believe that despite the election debacles and losing power several  times in the past, it can be said that NC still continues to be the premier political party in Kashmir having its cadres at the grassroots level also.

The party has till now been able to keep its flock together after the creation of some new political parties for last few years.  Leaders and prominent workers from other parties particularly from PDP left their respective parties and joined the new parties.

Only few days back there were even reports of some leaders and workers from BJP in Kashmir "leaving their party to join the new parties." This looked politically strange since BJP seemingly looks comfortably placed right now and is aiming for forming the new government in Jammu and Kashmir after the assembly polls.

As per some reports "those disgruntled were planning to hold a meeting and resign in protest against being ignored" but with the timely intervention of J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina  such a situation was averted. He arrived in Srinagar, held a meeting with them and pacified them.

After his successful mission, Raina hailed the services and work done by the leaders for BJP in Kashmir. He said everything has been sorted out. Later,  these local leaders  denied the reports of  having any serious differences with party leadership or having planned resignations.

After a few days the BJP president made three changes at the lower level in the party, which are seen as a move to address the grievances of the leaders in Kashmir.

The move by these Kashmir based BJP leaders was surprising at a time  when panchayat and ULBs polls are nearing.

The two polls are not a cake walk for any party now. Because of wider participation of parties tough contests are expected .Top BJP leadership would expect their local leaders and workers in Kashmir to deliver and prove their worth.

Senior party leaders at the J&K level have been making strenuous efforts for their reach out to Kashmiri masses particularly the youth during their frequent visits to Kashmir.

To what extent the local leaders have been able to consolidate the efforts of their senior leaders will become known during the polls whether for  Panchayats, ULBs, Lok Sabha or assembly.

Political  analysts say that BJP in entire Jammu and Kashmir will have to avoid creating groupism in the party if it has to remain strong. Congress in the past was plagued with the groupism for long in J&K and suffered.

Since 2014, BJP has established itself in a strong and big way at national level and in Jammu also. So the aspirations of its senior politicians in Jammu to be among the leading leaders is natural. Same is case with other leaders who joined it from other parties.

Their aspirations and subsequent clash of political interests among them have been creating sometimes seen and unseen ripples. At one time there were reports of Raina getting replaced as J&K BJP president.

Whether the reports were true or untrue, Raina continues to strongly hold the fort even now. With his one liner post-" Tiger Abhi Zindah Hai"- on his social media accounts some time back he had indirectly announced that he is going to stay as the party president in J&K.

Going by his statements and activities in Kashmir, it seems that he has learnt to some extent the art how to play politics in the unpredictable political field in Kashmir and how to counter parties like NC and PDP on their home-ground by giving the BJP's narratives and strategies a local touch. There is a feeling among those near to him in Kashmir that he helps in getting the problems of common people solved.

They say that if Raina calls himself as a tiger on social media, "he is not a toothless tiger unlike most others as he is able to deliver when the time comes and not gets trapped only in the politics of rhetoric and excuses." To what extent are his supporters correct or incorrect will become known at the election time.

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