ULB poll results: Time for Jammu Congress to introspect

  • BY BIVEK MATHUR
  • Publish Date: Oct 29 2018 2:45AM
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  • Updated Date: Oct 29 2018 2:45AM
ULB poll results: Time for Jammu Congress to introspectFile Photo

Even before the dates of the civic polls were announced in the State, there was a general perception in Jammu that Congress would gain from the “anti-incumbency” against BJP in the region, but results of the civic polls left everyone, including the top Congress leaders, in surprise.

The BJP won 43 out of 75 wards in the Jammu Municipal Corporation, a majority for the post of mayor and deputy mayor, while the party won total 212 wards in the region.

The saffron party claimed 92 out of 154 ULB seats in Jammu district, 23 out of 63 in Rajouri, 13 out of 26 in Reasi and 34 out of 80 in Kathua.

It, however did not perform well in other districts, particularly Poonch, Udhampur, Doda, Samba, Ramban and Kishtwar where independents, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) and Congress party swept most seats of the municipalities.

In 17 wards of Poonch municipal council, independents won from 11 seats followed by 4 seats claimed by BJP and 3 by Congress party. Similarly, in 13 wards of municipal committee Surankote in Poonch district, independents emerged winners on 12 seats, while Congress claimed only one ward.

In Udhampur municipal council also, highest 9 wards out of total 21 were won by independents followed by 6 by JKNPP, 4 by BJP and 2 by Congress party.

In 13 wards of Ramnagar municipality in Udhampur district, the BJP won maximum 7 wards followed by 5 by JKNPP and one ward by independent.

In 7 wards of Chenani municipality in the district, independents and BJP members won 3 seats each while Congress got only one seat. 

In Doda municipal committee, independents won in 11 wards followed by BJP and Congress (three each).

Similarly, of total 7 seats in Thathri municipal committee, Congress and independents won three each, while BJP bagged one seat.

In Bhaderwah, Congress won in six wards, followed by independents (4) and BJP (3).

Out of total 56 wards of four committees of Samba, 27 independent candidates emerged victorious, BJP won 18 and Congress nine while two seats went to Jammu Kashmir National Panther Party.

In Ramban district, for 21 seats of three municipal committees, Congress managed 10 and independent candidates managed four. BJP won six, while election in ward number 2 of MC Ramban was deferred due to the death of a candidate on the polling day.

For MC Kishtwar, people elected 10 independent candidates while Congress managed only two and BJP one in the 13-member body.

Senior Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma admitted that the Pradesh Congress needs some serious introspection after the civic poll results in Jammu.

He, however said that vote share of BJP decreased in the civic polls “but Congress didn’t get benefitted out of this slipping vote share.”

He said, “Both national parties - BJP and Congress - lost their vote share in this election in Jammu. People relied on independents than the national political parties and this is a ‘disturbing’ trend for the national parties.”   

On what needs to be done in Congress to win the trust of people for the Legislative Assembly elections, Sharma said, “I believe that the Congress leadership in Jammu should reshape the organizational structure and give chance to the dedicated and committed workers rather than trusting on old cronies of party leaders,” he said.

The senior Congress leader also said, “Congress also has to clear its stand and policies for Jammu region. We must not remain silent on issues concerning people of Jammu.”

Further, Sharma believed that BJP cadre, with its allies - RSS, VHP and other organisations - is very active in comparison to the Congress in Jammu region.

“There is no denying to this fact that BJP cadre does hard work on ground, but ours does not. So, we’ve to make some serious changes in the organisational structure and give chance to committed cadre to strengthen the party at the grass root level,” he said.

Times of India senior correspondent in Jammu, Sanjay Khajuria, believes that Congress fielded maximum new faces in the civic polls, ignoring some devoted and committed party leaders, and same was the reason behind the dismal performance of party in the municipal polls.

The other major factor, according to Khajuria, was Congress’ silence on issues concerning people of Jammu.

For example, he said, when people of Jammu region would cry over the power and water crisis, the Pradesh Congress leaders would stage protest over alleged Rafale scam and against Karnataka Floor Test.  

“Rafale scam, Karnataka Floor Test and other likewise issues were not that important for Jammuites as their local issues were,” Khajuria said.  

“How many times in the last summers did the Congress leaders hit the streets against the unscheduled power cuts in Jammu? Only once or twice, I remember. This silence of an opposition party was appalling for the people of Jammu region. So, they preferred independents over the Congress leaders in some wards and BJP in others,” Khajuria said.

The senior correspondent with the national daily, Sanjay Khajuria, further said, “On certain issues of controversial nature like the Rasana case, the Congress didn’t speak since beginning. It should have cleared its stand, whatsoever. People don’t expect an opposition party to remain silent on issues that concern them.”

“It is entirely my personal belief that until and unless Congress party will not clear its political stand for Jammu, except few leaders having their own face value, it would be impossible for the other Congress leaders to secure a win even in the Legislative Assembly elections,” he said.

Umesh Pangotra, the senior journalist who remained associated with Hindi daily Amar Ujala for a long time and also worked with former deputy chief minister and current speaker of Legislative Assembly, Nirmal Singh as PRO, believes that Congress is headless organisation in Jammu region in general and district in particular.

“You wouldn’t find a single Congress leader who can proudly project himself as the leader of the Jammu region. Jammu politics is based on issues of national importance and if you wouldn’t pick them up, you will be rejected. Same is happening with Congress in Jammu,” Pangotra said, adding, “Even BJP got the decisive mandate of public in 2014 elections by raising the issues of national importance.”

He further said that Congress leaders often prefer silence on certain issues of national importance and for Jammu region “and this will only make them untouchable in Jammu.”

“Congress party has to introspect and keep this in mind that it cannot ignore the people of Jammu region for Kashmir,” he added.