BJP in Jammu has only the Modi card to play with: It could come back to bite
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fast losing its support base in the Jammu region from where it had won 25 out of 37 seats in the legislative assembly elections in 2014. This erosion is not restricted to one section of people but is all encompassing and that is a worrying sign for the party. It sure can ignore this only at its own peril but most leaders, even mohalla pradhans, vax eloquent about Prime Minister Narendra Modi when one talks about the party performance!
The most apt thing that comes to mind is a person with cross eyed vision here. In light hearted banter, it is often said that one is afflicted with ``LLTT (Looking London, Talking Tokyo) phenomenon’’. In case of minnows, as also major, bigwigs of the BJP, it seems they are afflicted with a double whammy of not only LLTT but a tunnel vision too. That has distorted their worldview so much that none of them is ready to believe they are invincible.
The most irritating part of any discussion with anyone from the BJP nowadays is the way they start dropping Modi’s name in the second sentence they utter, if not the first! Alright, Modi’s charisma has worked twice in Lok Sabha elections, winning 282 and 303 seats in 2014 and 2019, respectively. In between, he remained the major workhorse during several assembly elections too, including those held last time in J&K.
Do the local leaders have anything to show by way of ground level work they have done to help their voters? Or the voters who cast their votes in municipal and panchayat elections go to Modi for the mitigation of any issues they are facing? Invoking Modi virtually at the drop of a hat is something the BJP cadres of all levels have been indulging in routinely and that seems like developing into a serious mental handicap.
This thing, the BJP losing its support base, is something that came to the fore a couple of days ago at a meeting in R S Pura. The meeting had been called by the BJP itself and obviously the invitees were those deemed sympathetic to it in the past. This innocuous looking meeting brought the angst against the party to the fore like nothing else has in the recent past. The party leaders present in the meeting were conveyed in no uncertain terms that the ordinary masses are very unhappy with the way things are shaping up here.
At the meeting, speakers talked about galloping inflation, rising petroleum prices, rising food bills, costs of medicines etc. They pointed out that Modi’s magic is just not enough and may not be enough this time to see the party leaders through the next round of elections at any level. The most immediate concern being the assembly elections to the new Union Territroy (UT) legislature. In the 90-member new assembly, it is expected that the relative political weightage of the two regions, Kashmir and Jammu, may change.
After a fresh delimitation, the work for which is being done at present behind the scenes, it is likely that both the regions may have 45 seats each. It can be said without any fear of contradiction that the old distribution of 46 seats for Kashmir and only 37 for Jammu is set to change. Yet, it does not seem likely that will be enough to ensure clean sweep, or even a good performance, by the BJP.
The bell tolls for the BJP, and it is growing louder by the day.
Sant Kumar Sharma, a seasoned journalist, is an authority on Jammu and Kashmir. Two of his books on Article 370 and Delimitation are already out. The third one on Indus Waters Treaty is now out and could be bought here.
Sant began as a teacher but after six years, joined the Indian Express, Chandigarh in 1990, the year when terrorism was taking its first step in J & K and soon there would be exodus of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. He subsequently worked for The Statesman, The Times of India and Star News among others. He is based in Jammu since May 2000.
He edits epaper.earthnews.in, a newspaper from Jammu presently.
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