By: Afaq Bhat
Srinagar: National Conference will have to come up with an “out of box solution” to remain relevant in Jammu as its face, Devender Singh Rana, in the region has joined Bharatiya Janata Party along with his friend Surjeet Singh Salathia. Both the leaders were considered to be influential
According to the political observers, Rana’s exit from the NC and him joining the BJP would provide a chance for the saffron party to regain the ground in Jammu which it has lost in the region in the recent past. “The National Conference in absence of Rana will face an uphill task in the Dogra heartland, which was swept by the BJP in the last assembly elections but Rana had managed to hold his fort and won Nagrota assembly seat. As provincial president of the National Conference, he had managed to keep the party’s flock together in the Jammu region,” said a politician.
Soon after Rana and Salathia joined the BJP, speculations were rife that seventeen more NC leaders from Jammu region are also planning to quit the “Grand Old Party” of Jammu and Kashmir. “If people start leaving NC in Jammu after Rana’s exit it won’t be any surprise. Leaders who were in the National Conference due to Rana will follow him. The NC leadership will have to think and think fast to prevent the party from losing its base completely in the Jammu region,” the politician added.
An analyst said, “Post August 5, 2019 (when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories) the political scenario has changed completely. The Kashmir based parties are no more in a position to call shots. For every move they will have to depend upon Jammu politicians. After the delimitation exercise gets completed, no government in J&K can be formed without the participation of a party from the Jammu region.”
He said, “The National Conference as a party had done pretty well in the District Development Council (DDC) elections that were held last year. But it won some DDC seats in Jammu region also. Now, things will be difficult for the party.”
The analyst said that there is every possibility about assembly elections being held in J&K after the delimitation exercise gets over and one can expect polls early next year. “Before elections are announced the National Conference and other Kashmir based parties will have to put their acts together so that these formations have at least some presence in the Jammu region,” he added.