May 27, 2024

Since Article 370 revocation, over 35 former ministers, legislators, senior leaders switch sides

Coming LS polls likely to serve as litmus test for JK’s altered political landscape

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir are anticipated to be both significant and intriguing for several reasons. Primarily, following the abrogation of Article 370, it will serve as a litmus test in the altered political landscape for the first time.

As per news agency over the past five years, there has been a considerable transformation in the political dynamics of the region. During the electioneering process, one can expect to witness the emergence of contenders affiliated with non-traditional political entities challenging the dominance of established family-based parties. Notably, three newly registered parties have surfaced in Jammu and Kashmir, poised to challenge their parent parties. Numerous leaders, former ministers, and ex-MLAs are anticipated to actively engage in politics within this evolved political milieu. A notable trend has been the significant number of leaders, former ministers, and MLAs switching allegiances in Jammu and Kashmir.

Following the revocation of Article 370, Kashmir experienced initial political upheaval. Several senior leaders distanced themselves from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Notably, former minister Syed Altaf Bukhari, previously aligned with PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, parted ways with the PDP to establish a new entity, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party. In the inaugural District Development Council (DDC) elections, the party demonstrated commendable performance in various regions, challenging the dominance of its parent party, the PDP. Subsequently, influential leader Ghulam Nabi Azad severed ties with the Congress to form the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP).

The emergence of DPAP stirred significant commotion within the Congress, leading to the defection of several former ministers and MLAs to Azad’s camp. However, some leaders who initially joined Azad eventually returned to the Congress fold. DPAP is currently exploring electoral prospects across various constituencies, including Jammu, Udhampur, and Anantnag-Rajouri. Additionally, the Apni Party is actively considering alliance possibilities in Kashmir. Advocate Ankush Sharma’s Ekam Sanatan Dharma Dal, primarily active in the Jammu division, has also emerged as a noteworthy political entity.

NC faced a setback in the Jammu division when its divisional president, Devendra Singh Rana, along with his supporters, joined the BJP in 2022. Notably, former minister Surjit Singh Salathia accompanied him, followed by former MLAs Kamal Arora and Premsagar Aziz defecting from the NC. Recently, after the hills were granted Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservation status, Dr. Shahnaz Ganai, an MLC from Poonch, formally joined the BJP. Additionally, former MLA Mushtaq Bukhari, Chaudhary Arshad, Dharamveer Singh Jamwal, Somnath Khajuria, among others, have joined the party.

In addition to Syed Altaf Bukhari, several other notable figures have severed ties with the PDP, including former minister Imran Raza Ansari, Basharat Bukhari, Abdul Rahim Rather, former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Baig, former minister Haseeb Drabu, Javed Mustafa Mir, and Ashraf Mir. Moreover, some relatives of Mehbooba Mufti have also disassociated themselves from the party. Consequently, NC, aligned with the INDIA alliance, has unequivocally stated its reluctance to engage in any seat-sharing agreement with the PDP. Furthermore, former MLA Sheikh Jabbar and former Deputy CM Parvez Qadri have also parted ways with the NC


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