The Hindu – Post-poll survey: a mixed bag for BJP in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab

While the BJP swept Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir saw a split verdict and Punjab provided some comfort for the Congress

Sandeep Shastri

Srinagar/Chandigarh, 30 May 2019. Today we report on the smaller States and one Union Territory of north India, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi. Except in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, this region saw an electoral landslide in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP achieved a 100% strike rate in these areas.

While the BJP repeated its 2014 performance in terms of seats in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, it is important to note that it secured a much higher vote share and won by a much bigger margin than it did in 2014 in these States. Haryana is now an addition to the category of States where the BJP won all the seats.

In Jammu and Kashmir, there was a split verdict. The BJP won in Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh, while the National Conference won in Anantnag, Baramulla and Srinagar. Punjab went against the trend in north India and provided some comfort for the Congress party.

Implications for State polls

The electoral contest in Delhi had garnered a lot of attention in view of the moves made by many non-BJP leaders to ensure a seat-sharing arrangement between the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Such an arrangement, it was felt, would prevent the split of the non-BJP vote. An alliance was not forged ultimately as both parties were unwilling to concede to each other’s demands.

The Congress wanted an exclusive seat-sharing arrangement for Delhi, while the AAP was in favour of a broader arrangement that included Punjab and Haryana. The BJP retained all seven seats in the capital by impressive margins of victory.

What is significant is that the Congress was able to push the AAP to a distant third position in the electoral battle. This will have important implications for next year’s Assembly election.

The BJP also achieved a clean sweep in Himachal Pradesh. The Modi factor and the Balakot strikes played an important role in the party’s success. Infighting in the Congress was a key factor that contributed to the party’s inability to open its account in the State. Himachal Pradesh was also witness to a dual pro-incumbency sentiment as the government in the State is also a BJP government.

Haryana saw one of the keenest electoral contests in this region. The BJP had the advantage of facing a divided Opposition. It launched an aggressive campaign focusing on the Prime Minister, the Balakot strikes and its own ‘idea of India’.

In the recent past, the BJP State government too had improved its image. This helped to boost its prospects. The Union Cabinet’s approval of 10% reservation for the economically backward in the general category also made a difference in attracting Jat votes. Haryana also saw a clean sweep by the BJP.

Some wins for the Opposition

Jammu and Kashmir saw distinct regions of the State voting differently. The BJP retained its monopoly in the Jammu and Ladakh regions. In the Kashmir Valley, the National Conference, which was in alliance with the Congress, was able to beat the challenge from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and win all the three seats.

This clear divide gains significance as the State prepares for Assembly polls. This trend indicates that it could well be a split verdict like the last time round.

In Punjab the Congress was able to win a majority of the seats, and double its 2014 tally. The National Democratic Alliance partners, the Akali Dal and the BJP, were able to win only four seats. The AAP was able to retain just one seat. The decline of this party is truly the story of this election as is the revival of the Congress’s fortunes in a Lok Sabha election from the State.

The NDA partners were unable to get their act together. The detailed article on Punjab makes the important point that the AAP vote has shifted to both the Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress.

While the Other Backward Classes Hindu vote has moved to the Congress, the upper caste Hindu vote has moved to the NDA alliance, more specifically the BJP. A segment of the Jat Sikh vote seems to have moved from the Akali Dal to the Congress.

The articles provided a detailed outline of the results in the five small States and one Union Territory of north India and reflect the diversity of trends in this region.

Sandeep Shastri is the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Jain University, Bengaluru, and the national co-ordinator of the Lokniti network

https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/a-mixed-bag-up-north/article27297124.ece