J&K legislative council election: 'Rebel' BJP is National Conference supporter, may extend it to Congress too
Though there are 37 candidates in fray, the actual contest is between ruling NC-Congress coalition and state’s principal opposition, the PDP.
Elections for four LC berths designated for the Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRI) is slated for December 3. Though there are 37 candidates in fray, the actual contest is between ruling NC-Congress coalition and state’s principal opposition, the PDP. Both the sides are engaged in high-voltage campaigning to woo over 35000 voters who were elected by the people in a 2011 polls that witnessed participation.
Dramatic development took place on Tuesday when BJPs senior leader and former defence minister Prof Chaman Lal Gupta and five of his six ‘rebel’ BJP lawmakers had a detailed interaction with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. They assured Omar their support to two NCs candidates – Dr Shehnaz Ganai (Jammu) and Ali Mohammad Dar (Kashmir), in the LC polls. These seven right-wing lawmakers claimed they have sizeable influence in their constituencies which belongs to them and not to the BJP.
Interestingly, however, chief minister’s political adviser Devinder Singh Rana stated publicly on Wednesday that Gupta and Co’s support will be accepted by the party if it is extended to the coalition and not to NC alone. Congress and NC have fielded one each candidates in Kashmir and Jammu regions. Congress has fielded Ghulam Nabi Monga for the Kashmir seat and Bali Ram Baghat for the Jammu berth.
Gupta has decided against supporting BJPs official candidates for the LC polls. The decision is rooted in the drama that was enacted in the last legislative council elections on April 13, 2011 when seven of the 11 BJP lawmakers voted for ruling coalition and not the party’s official candidate. As the party investigated the issue, it was proved beyond doubt that Gupta and six others had cross-voted.
They were immediately suspended from the party membership. Later, the party high command sent a communication to the Speaker of J&K assembly seeking action against them under the anti-defection law. By then Gupta and his supporters had gone to the court and the speaker skipped deciding on the request saying the case was sub-judice.
The seven lawmakers who are expected to support the ruling coalition – Congress included, are planning contesting elections on a brand new platform. Gupta’s son Anil has floated Jammu Kashmir Democratic Front (JKDF) that opted for a ‘dramatic’ introduction by sending two of its activists with party flags storming into Well of the Assembly during autumn session in October. The party remained on the TV screens for most of the day as the ruling NC remained sympathetic by skipping being harsh to the two activists. They were handed over to the police, arrested, bailed out as pockets in Jammu celebrated the return of the hero’s.
Having a satellite right wing party in J&K, according to well placed sources, was the outcome of a detailed brainstorming within the Sangh Parivaar. BJP can never become part of the power equation in the state. It might lead the Jammu Municipal Corporation but never become part of any ruling regime in the state.
Neither of the three major parties in the state – PDP, NC and Congress, can ever formally align with them. This is why the Parivaar is keen to repackage itself in the state. It was decided at a high level within the Parivaar (including RSS) that instead of BJP, the party needs to father a local regional party which eventually will have the acceptability to ally with other regional parties. JKDF is beginning of that process, sources said.
If this experiment succeeds then J&K will have two regional parties based at Jammu. Panthers Party that Prof Bhim Singh founded has three members in the state legislative assembly, already.