JAMMU: Politicians spend decades cultivating electoral constituencies to be able to win elections but the delimitation process could change that at once -this is what has happened with a number of politicians in Jammu region, mostly belonging to the Bhartiya Janta Party.
Constituency is a very basic unit of a politician’s political standing. It is not just a geographical area but the social and cultural components which define a politician’s relationship with communities and, therefore, the chances to win.
The ongoing process of Delimitation appears to have shaken ground beneath feet of a number of politicians in the Jammu region. Senior BJP leaders and those veterans who joined the saffron party in recent years in well avowed bid to “protect” their constituencies, have actually lost the ground.
The draft proposal the Delimitation Commission shared with the Associate Members brings out drastic changes in terms of cartography which has taken many Constituencies altogether off. In some cases, well established political veterans have lost their turf to reservation.
BJP state Vice President and top Brahmin leader Sham Lal Sharma had Akhnoor his family turf for over three decades. The Delimitation Commission has proposed to reserve the Akhnoor Constituency for the Scheduled Caste.
In these circumstances, Sham will never be able to contest from Akhnoor. Sharma, a firebrand Brahmin leader and former Minister, had quit Congress in the eve of 2019 Lok Sabha elections to join BJP. He won 2004 by-elections and 2009 general elections from Akhnoor but lost to BJP in 2014. In view of reservation of Akhnoor, Sharma may shift to the neighboring Khour Constituency.
Proposed to be rechristened as Khour, the erstwhile Chhamb Constituency has been de-reserved and declared open for general candidates. Before being reserved for Scheduled Castes in 1995, Khour was a turf of Madan Lal Sharma, a veteran Congress leader and Sham’s elder brother. Madan, a Minister for several times and also Member of Parliament, passed away in 2020.
Close to the International Border, Suchetgarh constituency has been erased altogether this exiting many veteran politicians including Choudhary Sham Lal, Rajinder Singh Chib and Taranjit Singh Tony.
Choudhary and Tony are Jatt leaders. They don’t have the option to move to any of the next neighbouring Constituencies. The Suchetgarh Constituency has been consumed into Bishnah and R.S. Pura, both proposed to be reserved for the Scheduled Caste.
Reservation of Bishnah for Scheduled Caste have also marred prospects of Kamal Arora and Ashwani Sharma, both BJP leaders. Ironically, a former MLA, Arora had joined Apni Party on Altaf Bukhari’s promise of “protecting” his constituency. Disillusioned with Bukhari, he joined BJP in November 2021. Arora is an OBC leader.
As the March Constituency in Jammu district is proposed to be reserved for Scheduled Castes, veteran BJP leader Sukhnandan Chowdhary will have to shift. Chowdhary is a Jatt leader. Math is also the Constituency of National Conference’s most trusted and credible Jammu face Ajay Sadhotra who will now have to cultivate another Constituency.
Interestingly, within BJP, another senior leader and former High Court Bar Association president Adv Abhinav Sharma for also eyeing Marh constituency, even to the chagrin of Sukhnandan. Sharma may now have to work for some other Constituency.
In Reasi district, the altogether disappearance of Gool-Arnas Constituency, has raised new challenges for veteran leader Ajaz Ahmed Khan. The Gool-Arnas Constituency has been consumed in parts into the newly created Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Reasi and Mahore Constituencies. A popular leader, Khan won three elections in a row. His brother also won from the erstwhile Ghulabgarh in 2018. Khan brothers are sons of veteran leader Haji Buland Khan.
Khan, one of the longest running Ministers in last few decades, may still contest from the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Constituency which has 23% SC votes and 15% ST votes. In Rajouri district, the Kalakote constituency has been broken into two with one part merged in Darhal and other in newly created Sunderbani-Kalakote Constituency.
This effectively challenges the future electoral prospects of Abdul Gani Kohli, who went through many parties before arriving in the BJP in 2014.
In Kishtwar district, the loss of Inderwal constituency must have posed similar challenge for veteran Congress leader G.M. Saroori who may shift to the newly created Mughal Maidan segment