This dichotomy is explained by the varying performance and extent of parties’ participation in the three regions of Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh.
In the election results from Jammu and Kashmir’s six Lok Sabha seats, the National Conference and the BJP won three seats each. Their vote shares, however, were miles apart. While the BJP secured 46.39%, the NC had less than 8%. In comparison, the Congress’s vote share was 28.47%, almost four times as high as the NC’s — yet the Congress won no seats. This dichotomy is explained by the varying performance and extent of parties’ participation in the three regions of Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh.
The Jammu region of two seats, Udhampur and Jammu, polled 26.59 lakh votes from an electorate of 37.33 lakh, or 71.22%. Ladakh’s single seat had a turnout of 72.25% (1.26 lakh out of 1.75 lakh). These two regions were not affected by the separatist-called poll boycott, which had a huge impact on the Kashmir Valley of three seats — Anantnag, Baramulla and Srinagar. Of the 40.1 lakh voters in the Valley, only 7.67 lakh (19.13%) turned out to vote.
Who was where
The BJP fielded candidates in all six seats while the Congress fielded candidates in five, leaving Srinagar for NC president Farooq Abdullah as part of an understanding. The NC fielded candidates only in the three seats of the Valley; so did the PDP. While these two regional parties contested against the Congress in the Valley seats of Anantnag and Baramulla, they announced their support for the Congress candidates in the two Jammu seats, and for an Independent candidate in Ladakh. This was tactical: the Congress (like the BJP) has the bulk of its support base in Jammu and Ladakh regions, while the NC and the PDP enjoy their support within the Valley.
How the votes add up
The bulk of the votes were polled in the Jammu and Ladakh regions. Of the 35.52 lakh votes counted in the state, 27.85 lakh (78.4%) came from these two regions. In the absence of the NC and the PDP, most of these votes obviously went to the BJP or the Congress. Again, of the votes polled by the two national parties, the bulk came from these two regions. Of the 10.11 lakh votes secured by the Congress, 9.43 lakh (93.27%) came from Jammu and Ladakh. The BJP’s votes were concentrated to an even greater extent in these two regions — of its nearly 16.48 lakh votes in the state, 16.25 lakh (98.61%) came from Jammu and Ladakh.
The contest in Kashmir, on the other hand, was essentially between the two regional parties. Of the 7.67 lakh votes polled in these three seats, the NC won 2.8 lakh (36.53%) on its way to bagging all the three seats. The PDP managed only 1.2 lakh (15.73%). The Congress bagged only 8.87% of the votes in the Valley while the BJP got only 2.96% from the Valley. The BJP is seen as having won most of the votes of Kashmiri Pandits living outside the Valley and voting for one or the other among the three Kashmir seats. The total votes from Kashmiri Pandits were 11,648, which is over half the 22,750 votes polled by the BJP in the three seats of the Valley.
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