Jammu & Kashmir 2019 Lok Sabha Elections Primer


9 April 2019

The state of Jammu & Kashmir has six parliamentary constituencies: Baramulla, Srinagar and Anantnag in the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh (in that sparsely populated region) and Jammu and Udhampur in the Jammu region.


The constituencies reflect the geographical reality of the state, which comprises of a small but densely populated valley in the centre, flanked in the east by vast lunar landscapes of Ladakh and hemmed in by the Jammu region in the south and south west. This coincides with the natural divisions of the state.


Traditionally, voters in Ladakh turn out in large numbers to vote while the turnout in the Valley is generally low mainly because of terrorist threats and anti-poll campaigns carried out by separatist groups. The turnout in the Jammu region varies but is usually significantly higher than that of the Valley.


This time, unprecedented security arrangements are being made for a violence free election in the Kashmir Valley while the situation is absolutely normal in the Jammu region and in Ladakh where active campaigning is taking place.


Phased Polling


To provide ample security polling will be held in different days across five phases from 11 April 2019 to 6 May 2019. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has prepared this schedule:


The volatile Anantnag constituency will go the polls in the 3rd phase (23 April 2019), 4th phase (Kulgam district 29 April) and the 5th phase (Shopian and Pulwama districts on 6 May).


Jammu elections will be held on 11 April (1st phase)


Baramulla will go to polls in the first phase to be held on 11 April


Udhampur polls will be held on 18 April (2nd phase)


Srinagar polls on 18 April (2nd phase)


Ladakh goes to the polls in the 5th phase or on 6 May 2019


Results will be declared on 23rd May 2019.


Here are a few facts about each of the constituencies.


Baramulla


This Lok Sabha constituency comprises 15 assembly segments, including Karnah, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara, Langate, Uri, Rafiabad, Sopore, Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Sangrama, Baramulla, Gulmarg, and Pattan.These are in north Kashmir and are spread over the three districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora.


Although this has traditionally been a National Conference stronghold, in the last Lok Sabha elections PDP's Muzaffar Hussain Baig won the seat getting 1,75,277 votes against the 1,46,058 votes polled by his National Conference rival Sharifuddin Shariq.


This time, the Lok Sabha elections here are expected to be three-cornered with the People's Conference party led by Sajjad Ghani Lone as the relatively new player. The People's Conference has fielded Raja Aijaz Ali this time and not Salamuddin Bajad who had contested and lost in 2014. This seat will also see the maverick Sheikh "Engineer" Rashid as a contestant supported by former IAS officer Shah Faesal (Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement).


Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who had won the last time, is not being fielded by the PDP. The main contestants this time are reportedly Muhammad Akbar Lone (National Conference), Raja Aijaz Ali (Peoples Conference) and Abdul Qayoom Wani (PDP). The BJP has fielded Mohammad Maqbool War while the NPP has put up Jahangir Khan. Three independent candidates in the fray include Javid Ahmad Qureshi, Syed Najeeb Shah Naqvi and Abdul Rashid Sheikh.


The Baramulla constituency went to the polls on 11 April and no violence was reported. In a stray incident of firing unrelated to the polling process, a student was killed in xsecurity forces firing in Langate after the polling was over. The Separatists called for a total shutdown and poll boycott. Voters were threatened on some parts but in many places the turnout was surprisingly high. Overall voting in this seat was 34.71 per cent. The turnout in the 15 assembly segments was as follows:
Kupwara district: Karnah 59.1%, Kupwara 58.7%, Lolab 45.3%, Handwara 60.3% and Langate 35.5%;
Baramulla district: Uri 57.0%, Rafiabad 11.8%, Sopore 4.3%, Sangrama 13.7%, Baramulla 16.0%, Gulmarg 33.5% and Pattan 33.9% ;
Bandipora district: Gurez 37.9%, Bandipora 21.5% and Sonawari 41.3%.


 


Srinagar


The constituency is spread over the three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal. It has 15 assembly segments including Kangan, Ganderbal, Hazratbal, Zadibal, >Idgah, Khanyar, >Habba kadal, Amira kadal, Sonawar, Batmaloo, Chadoora, Budgam, Beerwah, Khansahib and Chrari-Sharif. This is the most urbanised constituency in the state and a very densely populated area as well.


This is the National Conference supremo Dr Farooq Abdullah's traditional stronghold. However, in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Dr Abdullah was defeated by the PDP candidate Tariq Hameed Karra who won by a hefty 42,280 margin. Karra subsequently fell out with his party leadership and resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha seats which again went to the polls in 2017 when Dr Abdullah once again won defeating the PDP's Nazir Ahmad Khan by a little over 10,000 votes. The 2017 by elections was marked by extremely poor voter turnout at just 7.2 per cent.


This time, there are a total of 12 candidates contesting the seat but the real contest is amongst Dr Abdullah, the PDP newcomer Aga Syed Mohsin, Irfan Ansari of the People’s Conference and to some extent the BJP's Khalid Jahangir. Campaigning is reported to have been extremely low key this time as well. Apart from the four main candidates mentioned above, the contestants include Abdul Rashid Ganie of J&K National Panthers Party, Showkat Hussain Khan of Janta Dal United, Abdul Khaliq Bhat of Shiv Sena, Nazir Ahmad Lone of Rashtriya Jankranti Party and Nazir Ahmad Sofi of Manavadikar National Party. Bilal Sultan, Sajjad Ahmad Dar, Abdul Rashid Banday are contesting as independent candidates.


This constituency saw low polling (overall 14.1 per cent) this time as well although it was higher than during the 2017 Lok Sabha by-elections when polling was just 7.2 per cent. Low voter turnout was due to various factors including voter apathy, terrorist threats and a boycott call issued by the Separatist groups. District-wise polling was as follows: Ganderbal 17.6%; Srinagar 7.7%; and Budgam 21.5%.


 


Anantnag


This Lok Sabha (Parliamentary) constituency is made up of 16 assembly segments, including Tral, Pampore,   Pulwama, Rajpora, Wachi, Shopian, Noorabad, Kulgam, Homshalibug, Anantnag, Devsar, Doru, Kokarnag, Shangas, Bijbehara and Pahalgam.These are spread over the four districts of Ananatnag, Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam.


>In recent decades this constituency has been dominated by the People's Democratic Party (PDP). Mufti Sayeed's daughter Mehbooba Mufti won the seat first in 2004 and then in 2014. She resigned from it once she became chief minister of the PDP-BJP coalition government. Since then the vacated seat has seen no election although it should have been filled. Mehbooba has been afraid to hold elections here because she fears a humiliating loss for the PDP.


This constituency includes the troubled districts of south Kashmir including Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam. Separatist sentiments are strong here and so are the activities of the Jamaat e Islam. Militancy is also most pronounced in this area.


Last time Mehbooba won by a great margin (65,417 votes) because she championed an anti-BJP line. In the election, she had defeated the National Conference leader Mehboob Beg, who later resigned from the NC and joined the PDP to beconme one of Mehboob's closest aides. Mehbooba resigned the parliamentary seat in 2016 when she became chief minister following the death of her father Mufti Mohommad Sayeed. She angered her supporters by subsequently joining hands with the very party, BJP, she had reviled in order to form a coalition government. Popular anger against her prevented a by-election being held in this Lok Sabha seat which remained vacant. This has cost her a lot of political support and now she is trying to revive support by adopting a pro-separatist, anti-New Delhi stance.


This time the contest here will be among three main individuals: Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), Justice Hasnain Masoodi (National Conference) and Ghulam Ahmad Mir (Congress). The BJP has also fielded a candidate, Sofi Youssaf, and so has the People's Conference, Ch. Zaffar Ali.


A total of 18 candidates, including 10 independents, have filed nomination papers in this constituency. They include, Justice Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference, Mehbooba Mufti of Peoples Democratic Party, Sofi Yousuf of Bhartiya Janata Party, Ghulam Ahmad Mir of Congress party, Nisar Ahmad Wani of National Panthers Party, Choudary Zaffar Ali of Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference, Sanjay Kumar Dhar of ManavAdhikar Party, Surindra Singh of Pragatisheel Samaj Wasi Party (Lohia) and Independent candidates Imtiyaz Ahmad Rather, Ridwana Sanam, Riyaz Ahmad Bhat,Zubair Masoodi, Shams Khawaja, Ali MohdWani, Kaysir Ahmad Sheikh, Manzoor Ahmad Khan and Mirza Sajad Hussain.


The first phase of voting in this constituency on 23 April 2019 saw extremely poor turnout with voting at just 13.64 per cent. Most parts of Anantnag district wore a deserted look while Bijbehara, hometown of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, witnessed only 2.04 percent voter turnout.


The second phase of voting in this constituency which took place on 29 April 2019 and covered Kulgam district was even more dismal. Overall voting percentage rin the district was 10.32 per cent with Noorabad segment recording the highest turnout at 20.58 per cent. Devsar sement recorded 16.84 per cetn voter turnout while Kulgam saw just 2.38 and Hom Shalibugh 1.13 per cent. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the district had recorded a total turnout of 36.31 per cent with the Noorabad segment polling the highest 75.53 per cent votes.


The third and final voting in this constituency took place on 6 May in the two districts pf Shopian and Pulwama. Violence and intense stone pelting in parts of this district marked the campaigning as well as polling. On polling day grenades were hurled at two places and on the previous day stone pelters gathered at some places to attack police and polling staff to stop the voting process. Shopian district recorded a turnout of 2.88 per cent, while Pulwama registered a turnout of 2.14 per cent. The average for the two districts was 2.81 per cent. A couple of days prior to voting a local BJP leader was assassinated by terrorists. The Separatist conglomerate had issued a poll boycott call as well.


 


Udhampur


This large constituency is made up of six districts namely Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar, Kathua, Reasi and Ramban. It has 17 assembly segments including Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhadarwah, Ramban (SC), Banihal class=GramE> , Gulabgarh, Reasi , Gool Arnas, Udhampur, Chenani (SC), Ramnagar, Bani, Basohli, Kathua, Billawar and Hiranagar (SC).


The Udhampur Lok Sabha seat has traditionally been held by the Congress party. The seat was won by the Congress party's Lal Singh Chaudhary in 2004 and 2009. Chaudhary a Dogra hardliner left the Congress before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls after being denied nomination. This helped the BJP's Dr Jitendra Singh to secure a decisive victory (with a margin of 60,976 votes) over his closest rival veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. Singh was subsequently made a minister in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. He is again contesting.


There are a total of 12 contestants for this seat. Tilak Raj Bhagat of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress's Vikramaditya Singh are the other two prominent contestants. Vikramaditya Singh, who was earlier in the PDP, is a scion of the Dogra family that ruled Jammu & Kashmir before Independence. He is the eldest son of former Sadr-e-Riyasat Karan Singh and his daughter is married to the son of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh of the Patiala royal family.


The list of candidates include Tilak Raj Bhagat of Bhujan Samaj Party, Dr. Jitendra Singh of Bhartiya Janata Party, Vikramaditya Singh of Indian National Congress, Harsh Dev Singh of JKNPP, Ch. Lal Singh of Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party, Mohammad Ayub of Navrang Congress Party, Meenakshi of Shiv Sena and Bansi Lal, Rakesh Mudgal, Shaber Ahmad, Garib Singh and Firdous Ahmed all independents.


This constituency saw heavy, violence free voting when it went to the polls on 18 April. An estimated 70.2 per cent of the constituency's 1.67 million voters cast exercised their franchise in this district, demonstrating an overwhelming desire to participate in the democratic process. This, however, is a marginal decline of a1.8 percent when compared to the 2014 elections. District-wise voting percentage were as follows: District Kishtwar 66.2%; Doda 64.1%; Ramban 59.5%; Reasi 72.7%; Udhampur 74.8%; and Kathua 74.0%.


 


Jammu


Jammu constituency comprises Samba, Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu districts. It is made up of 20 assembly segments: Samba (SC), Vijaypur, Nagrota, Gandhinagar, Jammu East, Jammu West , >Bishnah, Ranbir Singh Pura, Suchetgarh, Marh, Raipur Domana, Akhnoor, Chhamb (SC), Nowshera, Darhal, Rajouri, Kalakot, Surankote, Mendhar and Poonch-Haveli.


Jammu too has traditionally been a Congress seat wrested in recent years by the BJP. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP's Jugal Kishore Sharma won a landslide victory over the Congress's Madan Lal Sharma, a political veteran who had previously won the seat both in 20014 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls. In 2014, Jugal Kishore polled 6,19,995 votes as against Madan Lal's 3,62,715 votes.


This time, the main contest is between the BJP's Jugal Kishore Sharma and the Congress candidate Raman Bhalla, although as many as 24 candidates are officially in the fray. The Jammu constituency has seen much campaigning by the three top BJP central leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The National Conferebnce is openly backing the Congress candidate while Mehbooba Mufti's PDP has not fielded any candidate from this seat to help the secular vote from being split. All this will help the Congress and the BJP is bracing for a stiff fight. The two other prominent candidates for this seat are the former BJP leader Choudhary Lal Singh, who is now heads the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan, and National Panthers Party patron Bhim Singh. Lal Singh earlier contested and won twice from the neighbouring Udhampur seat. It remains to be seen how he will fare in the Jammu seat but in all his presence will take away votes from the BJP.


This consttuency went to the polls on 11 April, which saw a very high overall voter turnout of 72.16 per cent, according to election officials. The district-wise break of voter turnout was as follows: Jammu district 72.16 per cent polling, Samba district 73.8 per cent, Rajouri district 65.7 per cent and Poonch district 68 percent.


 


Ladakh


Ladakh is a vast constituency area-wise but is sparsely populated and therefore has only four assembly segments: Nubra, Leh (in Leh district), Kargil and Zanskar (in Kargil district). The population in western part is mostly Buddhist and mostly Shia Muslim in Kargil in the north.


This constituency is split between the Shia Muslims of Kargil and the Buddhists of Leh. It swings either way from time to time. The last elections was won by Thupstan Chhewang, a respected figure in Ladakh, who hails from the traditional ruling family of the region. Chhewang had won the seat first in 2004, contesting under the banner of his Ladakh Union Territory Front. In the 2014 polls he contested as a BJP candidate and won the seat by just 36 votes. The rebel Congress contestant Ghulam Raza, who challenged him as an independent, almost scraped through, losing by just 36 votes. Last year in November 2018 Chhewang quit the BJP citing differences of opinion and resigned from the Lok Sabha too. He is reported to have quit politics.


This time, the BJP has fielded Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, who is the Chairman-cum-CEC for Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) while the Congress has decided to field Rigzin Spalbar, who was Chief Executive Councillor of the Leh council twice. The Congress could find the going tough as a former Congress bigwig and former MLA from Kargil, Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai, has decided to contest as an Independent for this parliamentary seat. He is being supported by the Imam Khomeni Memorial Trust, Kargil, a powerful local religious organisation which is most influential among the predominantly Shia Muslims of the Kargil region.


The National Conference and the Peoples' Democratic Party seem to have decided against fielding any candidate in this constituency and instead are supporting Sajjad Hussain Kargili, a journalist and social activist, who is the candidate of another of Kargil’s influential religious organisations, the Islamia School. A total of eight candidates had filed nomination papers but during scrutiny the papers of the BJP's "covering candidate", Dorji Angchuk, was rejected leaving seven in the fray.


This constituency saw voting on 5 May in the last leg of polling in the state. Voters were enthusiastic and turned out in large numbers. The constituency recorded a turnout of 71.01 per cent with Leh district accounting for 62.63 percent voting and Kargil district witnessing a massive 79.5 percent turnout. A total of 1,23,475 votes were polled today from a total of 1,74,618. In Leh district, 54,585 votes were polled from a total of 87,159 while in Kargil district, 68,890 votes were cast from out of 86,669. The voting percentage of 71.1 was marginally higher than the 70.78 voting recorded in the 2014 general elections.


TLadakh Voters in 5 May 2019 Lok Sabha Polls
Voters in Ladakh on 6 May 2019 [pib]

Nubra Assembly segment in Leh district recorded 67.49 percent turnout as against 69.69 percent of 2014 while Leh Assembly constituency accounted for 61.68 percent as compared to 63.67 percent in last general election. In Zanskar Assembly seat of Kargil district, the voting percentage was 82 as against 68.53 in 2014 while in Kargil Assembly constituency, the polling percentage was 78.6 as against 76.6 of previous election.


 


Winning Candidates of 2014 Lok Sabha


The last time Lok Sabha elections was held in the state was in 2014. This is a summary of the results:


Constituency


Winning Candidate


Party


Votes Polled


% Polled


Baramulla


Muzaffar Hussain Baig


PDP


175,277


37.9


Srinagar


Tariq Hameed Karra


PDP


1,57,923


51.4


Anantnag


Mehbooba Mufti


PDP


2,00,429


54.3


Ladakh


Thupstan Chhewang


BJP


31,111


26.6


Udhampur


Dr Jitendra Singh


BJP


4,87,369


47.3


Jammu


Jugal Kishore


BJP


6,19,995


49.6




Last updated: 23 April 2019


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