NC sweeps Kashmir, BJP wins Jammu & Ladakh, India gets Modi 2.0

The BJP has repeated its 2014 victory by retaining the Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh Lok Sabha constituencies, while the National Conference swept all three seats in the Valley.

The saffron party has scripted a new history by increasing victory margins on the seats manifold due to the Modi wave.

Notably, two arch-rivals — National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party — had supported the Congress candidates on both the Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats, but the party failed to win any seat.

Union minister and sitting Lok Sabha member Jitendra Singh has retained the Udhampur-Kathua Lok Sabha seat with a record margin of over 3.5 lakh votes. In 2014 elections Jitendra Singh had emerged as “giant-killer” by defeating Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad by 60,976 votes. Jitendra Singh had polled 4,87,369 votes against Azad’s 4,26,393 votes.

This time the Congress had fielded the scion of the erstwhile Dogra dynasty Vikramaditya against Jitendra margin manifold. Jitendra got 7,15,406 votes while Vikrmaditya bagged 3,66,123 votes.

Despite facing a fight from the joint opposition candidate, BJP’s Jugal Kishore Sharma also managed to increase his victory margin. In 2014, Jugal had polled 6,19,995 votes while Madan Lal Sharma of Congress had mustered only 3,62,715 votes.

The BJP also sprang a surprise by retaining the Ladakh seat as its candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgyal was declared elected by a margin of 10,000 votes.

Srinagar: The National Conference on Thursday registered its victory on all three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir, routing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which had swept the Valley in the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

Though the voter turnout in this election is much lower than the last General Election, the National Conference once again regained the seats from its regional rival, PDP.

The poll results, have, however, reflected “anger and resentment” against the PDP for its “unholy alliance” with the BJP, which pulled out of the coalition in June last year.

In the Srinagar constituency, retained by Farooq Abdullah after his victory in the 2017 bypoll, the voter turnout was 14.8 per cent, double from 7.2 per cent in 2017.

Only 1,86,832 votes of 12,94,560 were polled in Srinagar, in which Farooq got 1,06,750, PDP’s Syed Agha Mohsin got 36,700 votes and People’s Conference Imran Raza Ansari got 28,773.

The PDP in the Anantnag constituency of south Kashmir, which has been its bastion, registered a dismal turnout of 8.76 per cent. Mehbooba Mufti was elected from the seat in 2004 and 2014. Of the total electorate of 13,93,251, only 1,24,896 votes were polled in the three-phased elections.

National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi got elected from the Anantnag seat with 40,180 votes, GA Mir of the Congress got 33,504 votes and Mehbooba got 30,524 votes. It has been a swing constituency represented alternately by the NC and the PDP in the last four elections since 2004 after the PDP was floated by the Muftis in 1999.

The Baramulla constituency in north Kashmir registered a higher poll percentage, electing NC’s Mohammad Akbar Lone. The constituency registered 34.9 per cent in this poll, slightly lower than the 39.19 per cent in the 2014 elections.

Of the total 4,49,582 votes polled, Lone got 1,32,919 votes, Raja Aijaz Ali of the People’s Conference got 1,02,477 votes and Engineer Rasheed (Independent) got 1,00,667 votes.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party to a super-sized victory for a second term in office, as his message of nationalism, security, Hindu pride and a New India was wholeheartedly embraced by voters across large swathes of the country.

With the elections establishing the 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the partial vote count released by the Election Commission showed that BJP will not only surpass its 2014 performance but also cross 300-seats mark in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

Such was the force of the BJP wave that even Congress President Rahul Gandhi lost in his bastion of Amethi to Smriti Irani, but in consolation prize won the Wayanad seat in Kerala.

Until 9 pm, the BJP had won 115 seats and was leading in 188 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls in seven phases in April and May. This has put it on course to likely winning 303 seats, far better than the 282 it won in 2014. With the support of allies in the National Democratic Alliance, the coalition could have some 344 seats.

The victory margin left the combined opposition in the dust, with the Congress Party stuck at 27 confirmed victories and a lead in 24 seats, according to the partial results.

Modi easily won his seat in Varanasi with a margin of over 4.5 lakh votes while party president Amit Shah took Gandhinagar in their home state of Gujarat by over 5.5 lakh votes.

Modi and Shah arrived at the party headquarters in New Delhi to a rapturous welcome by supporters. Modi waved victory signs with both arms in the air as rose petals were showered on the duo, the two most powerful men in the country. He then proceeded to garland the statues of BJP idealogue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. Minutes later, a gigantic garland in BJP colours of saffron and green was held around Modi by other dignitaries.

In the end, Modi’s proclamation of “Ab ki baar 300 paar” just a few days ago looks set to come true as Gandhi’s campaign slogan of “chowkidar chor hai” and promises of annual income guarantee were soundly rejected by voters. In almost all the states where BJP won, its vote share was more than 50 percent.

The results have raised questions about Gandhi’s leadership and his party’s future. At a press conference, Gandhi refused to address that issue, saying the party will hold a meeting on Friday to discuss the future.

The results are a ringing endorsement of Modi’s popularity, his government’s achievements in the last five years and his campaign, which centred around national security following the Balakot air strikes, nationalism and Hindutva. He also relentlessly attacked the Congress Party for what he called its dynastic legacy, and blamed it for the country’s woes, including endemic corruption.

The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising.

Still, the results show that the Modi wave and the party’s brilliant election management swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status.

In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP is expected to win 62 of the 80 seats at stake. Although the BJP had won 71 seats in the last elections, the performance is far better than the 30-40 seats many exit polls had forecast.

The BJP state headquarters in Lucknow was drenched in saffron hue with jubilant party workers wearing saffron stoles, adorning ‘genda’ flowers around their necks and holding lotus cut outs. They also burst crackers and danced to drum beats as women supporters wore saffron attire and painted their nails in the same hue.

In a stark contrast, Congress, BSP and SP offices wore a forlorn look. Under the scorching sun, even shop owners selling campaign material outside the SP office sat in stunned silence as those gathered around the tea kiosks talked in hushed tones

The Modi wave not only swept through the Hindi heartland and Gujarat, as was expected, but also bulldozed through West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh appeared untouched. Even in Telangana, where it was expected to fare poorly, the BJP is expected to win four seats, while the Telangana Rashtra Samiti will get nine.

However, Andhra Pradesh threw up a shock in the Assembly polls, which were held simultaneously, voting out of power the Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu, and electing Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress.

After Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Modi is the third prime minister of the country _ and the first non-Congress one — who has been able to retain power for a second term with full majority in Lok Sabha.

The results were staggering for BJP in the Hindi-speaking states, including those where Congress had won in the recent Assembly elections: it swept all but one of the 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, 24 out of 25 in Rajasthan and nine out of 11 in Chattisgarh. Similar was the story in Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Delhi and notably Karnataka, where it is expected to win 25 out of 28 seats.

Among the big-name casualties were Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge who lost his Kalburgi seat in Karnataka and Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress won not a single seat in 13 states.

The BJP also made huge gains in Odisha, West Bengal and Telangana.

In Odisha, the BJP was ahead in eight of the 21 seats, up from one last time. In West Bengal, it was expected to win 18 seats, up from two in 2014, all at the expense of the Left. In Telangana, it was set to win four.

Congress ally DMK was ahead in 20 seats in Tamil Nadu while in Kerala, the Congress-led UDF was ahead in 19 out of 20 seats.

The voting was staggered between April 11 and May 19 in which around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million eligible people exercised their franchise to elect 542 members of the Lok Sabha from a total of 8,049 contestants.

Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power.