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Is the Gupkar alliance driven by political arithmetic or chemistry? – news from india


The Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir will have its first direct elections, the District Development Council (DDC) polls, in eight phases starting November 28. Local body elections in Ladakh, the other union territory that came into being after the bifurcation of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, took place in October.

Following the union government’s decision to revoke the former state’s special status in August 2019, politics has undergone a fundamental change in the region, especially in the Kashmir Valley. A large number of commentators see the degradation of the state’s constitutional status as a slight to the main political parties, which, unlike the separatists, advocated compromise with India’s constitutional apparatus. The most important political leaders of Kashmir were arrested before the decision of the center. They were gradually released, and former Prime Minister Mahbooba Mufti became the last major politician to be released from detention last month. After being released and just before the DDC elections, the leaders of seven political parties in Jammu and Kashmir announced the formation of an alliance called the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a joint resolution issued by the main political parties of Jammu and Kashmir on August 4, 2019, against the nullity or modification of the special constitutional position of the state. They also announced that they will compete together in upcoming DDC polls. What explains the decision of the former adversaries to unite? An HT analysis shows that both political arithmetic and chemistry could be behind the movement.

Show unity to ensure voter participation

There is reason to believe that the center’s decision to effectively nullify section 370 has sparked widespread resentment in the Kashmir Valley. Voter turnout in DDC polls will be the first litmus test of the magnitude of this resentment. Voter turnout had dropped dramatically in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and in previous elections held earlier in the Kashmir Valley. The former state had been embroiled in another period of political turmoil since protests erupted after the assassination of militant Burhan Wani by security forces in 2016. By burying its previous differences and making the restoration of the status quo its main demand, The PAGD constituents could be trying to channel this latent discontent into a democratic mandate to defend their demand and reaffirm their political legitimacy.

But will it make a difference in the election results?

Together, the PAGD parties have won the majority of seats in all assembly elections held in Jammu and Kashmir since 1996, when the electoral process resumed after a gap of nearly a decade after the outbreak of the armed insurgency. in the region. The new alliance was stronger even in the Lok Sabha polls. An analysis of the last five Lok Sabha elections shows that these parties together had an advantage in most segments of the assembly in all these elections except 2019, suggesting that sheer political arithmetic may not have been the main reason. behind the formation of this alliance.

Can the PAGD harm the BJP in UT Jammu and Kashmir?

Simple arithmetic suggests that the PAGD might not make a big dent in the performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The reason for this is that the BJP’s electoral stakes are concentrated in the Jammu region of UT, where Hindus have a significant part of the population. This is especially true in the four Hindu-majority districts of Jammu, Udhampur, Samba and Kathua. Eighteen of the 25 Assembly Electoral Districts (AC) that the BJP won in the 2014 assembly elections came from these four districts. In 12 of these Autonomous Communities, the BJP’s share of the votes was above 50%, which would make any type of opposition alliance there irrelevant. This factor makes the BJP a strong party in select parts of Jammu, while Congress and the newly formed alliance are strong in most of the Kashmir region and a significant part of the Jammu region.

Is the PAGD a preemptive attack to neutralize the boundary effect?

The ongoing process of delimiting the boundaries of electoral districts in Jammu and Kashmir, which will also increase the number of Autonomous Communities from 83 to 90, could change the electoral equations in the state. Several Autonomous Communities have sub-regions dominated by different religious communities. If there were to be a calculated redesign of the borders, for example, one that increases the proportion of the Hindu population in some Muslim-dominated ACs, then the political arithmetic may change. The case of two adjacent autonomous communities in the Jammu district, Ranbir Singh Pura and Bishnah, is an example. The BJP beat Ranbir Singh Pura in 2014 by a margin of 22% of the votes, while it lost Bishnah by a margin of only 4% of the votes. The result of the booth level shows us that the BJP had very strong foci of support in these two districts, while there were also posts where support was very weak. Careful modification of the boundaries between these two districts, for example, can easily tip political arithmetic in favor of the BJP.

The DDC polls will signify a new epoch in Jammu and Kashmir’s political history. From political participation to election results, everything could change dramatically from what it has been in the past. It is these tectonic shifts that could have caused ancient adversaries to rally in the PAGD.

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