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How much political dynamics of J-K changed after delimitation? Know current status of Anantnag seat

The National Conference, People's Democratic Party, and Awami National Conference believe that connecting Poonch-Rajouri with Anantnag seat is objective of BJP's entry into Kashmir, which can never happen. However, BJP and other political parties are already claiming victory on the Anantnag seat.

Reported By : Manzoor Mir Edited By : Arushi Jaiswal
Srinagar
Updated on: April 04, 2024 17:35 IST
Lok Sabha Elections
Image Source : FILE PHOTO Representative image

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: The political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir has undergone significant transformations, particularly following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 and the subsequent restructuring of the region into two union territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The dynamics have further evolved with the process of delimitation. In addition to the traditional players like the People's Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), three prominent new entrants, namely the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) led by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Peoples Conference led by Sajjad Lone, and Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari, are participating in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The National Conference, PDP, and Awami National Conference view the BJP's attempt to include Poonch-Rajouri in the Anantnag constituency as an intrusion into Kashmir, which they adamantly oppose. However, the BJP and other parties are optimistic about their prospects of winning the Anantnag seat.

Notably, delimitation is the process of redrawing electoral boundaries to ensure equal representation based on population changes. It can impact political dynamics by altering the demographics of electoral constituencies and thereby influencing the distribution of political power.

The Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri constituency of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most closely watched seats for several reasons, after the newly formed Trans-Pir Panjal Lok Sabha constituency. The constituency, characterized by its geographic, ethnic, and political diversity, is scheduled for polling on May 7. Anantnag-Poonch parliamentary constituency has become a focal point of political contention following the constituency realignment in 2022. Poonch and Rajouri districts are known as strongholds of the Pahari-speaking population. Given this scenario, all major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are closely monitoring this seat, recognizing it as a crucial vote bank, especially after the Central Government's decision to increase the SC/ST reservation for the hill population in 2023.

Claims of parties on the Anantnag seat:

In this scenario, besides the BJP, both the National Conference and Ghulam Nabi Azad's party assert that they will secure victory in this seat by a significant margin. Historically, the Pahari community has largely supported regional parties such as the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whereas the Gujjars and Bakarwals have predominantly favoured the Congress. However, with inter-community competition intensifying in reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes (STs) following the expansion of political reservation for STs during assembly elections, there could be shifts in this political landscape.

Speaking to India TV, political expert Farooq Ahmad Dar said that this time the elections would be completely different and tough because adding Poonch-Rajouri to the Anantnag seat could benefit the BJP and Azad's party. However, the National Conference and the PDP also have their vote banks, and if there is no alliance between the PDP and the National Conference, the vote could be divided, benefiting the BJP and Azad's party. 

Experts suggest that the strategies of the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Democratic Progressive Azad Party, and Apni Party to capture 40% of the non-Pahari votes, along with the support of the Pahari community, could lead to a division of votes.

Hopes for end of differences in alliance:

Muzaffar Shah, a leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference, remains hopeful that the differences between the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, who have decided to contest the elections separately, will be resolved soon. He mentioned that discussions are ongoing within the party regarding this matter. Shah emphasised that the primary goal of forming the PAGAD and I.N.D.I.A bloc is to prevent the BJP from gaining ground in Kashmir. If this objective is not achieved, the BJP and other parties may be credited for it.

The Anantnag Lok Sabha seat comprises 16 assembly constituencies. Over the course of 13 elections, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and Congress have emerged as the dominant parties in this region. Mehbooba Mufti notably won in both 2004 and 2014. However, in the 2019 elections, the National Conference's Hasnain Masoodi secured victory.

Also Read: Lok Sabha elections 2024: 'NC, Congress to fight polls jointly', says Omar Abdullah

Also Read: Lok Sabha Election 2024: Ghulam Nabi Azad to contest polls from Anantnag-Rajouri constituency

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