In Jammu and Kashmir, where the 2019 polls were marred by low voter turnout, the BJP seems on course to retaining its hard-won turf in the previous general elections. As per the latest Election Commission data, the National Conference is leading on three Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir and the BJP has opened huge leads in two constituencies while leading by a slender margin in Ladakh.
That is pretty much in line with the exit polls. The India Today-Axis My India survey predicted 2-3 seats for the BJP (NDA) and a similar share for Farooq Abdullah's Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) while Mehbooba Mufti-led People's Democratic Party (PDP) was expected to be wiped out. But the prediction that Congress would bag the volatile Anantnag seat, from where Mufti had contested, did not come true.
The state with six Lok Sabha seats is currently under President's rule after the PDP-BJP coalition broke down when the 25-member BJP in the state withdrew its support. The 87-member state assembly was dissolved on November 21, 2018. In the 2014 general elections, the BJP-PDP alliance had won three seats each - Udhampur, Ladakh and Jammu - while PDP had bagged Anantnag, Baramulla and the Srinagar seat. The Congress-JKNC coalition had got nothing. This time it has bagged all the three Valley seats.
The JKNC had teamed up with the Congress, mutually deciding that while the Grand Old Party will contest the Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats, JKNC will fight from Srinagar. The two parties had agreed to have a "friendly contest" over the Anantnag, Baramulla and Ladakh seats. The alliance has proved successful going by the trends so far.
Anantnag, comprising four south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Anantnag, had voted in three phases - a first in India's electoral history - owing to security concerns. This seat has remained vacant since 2016, when Mufti resigned from there to become chief minister, due to volatile conditions on the ground. The Congress had fielded J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief G.A. Mir while the BJP had fielded Sofi Yousuf, one of the founding members of the saffron party in Kashmir, against Mufti in what is seen as her family's traditional stronghold.
During the campaigning phase, analysts had pointed out that the 59-year-old has taken a huge political risk by entering the electoral fray herself despite the substantial anger against her in her constituency for aligning with the BJP. Barring a miracle here on, she has clearly failed the acid test.
In the Jammu constituency, the JKNC and PDP had supported the Congress in a bid to avoid splitting the secular vote but the BJP's Jugal Kishore has nonetheless prevailed, with a huge margin at that. Similarly, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has a huge lead in Udhampur.
JKNC leader Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to laud the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for their victory. "Omar Abdullah said credit should be given where it's due. He wrote: "So the exit polls were correct. All that's left is to congratulate the BJP & NDA for a stellar performance. Credit where credit is due PM Modi Sahib & Mr Amit Shah put together a winning alliance & a very professional campaign. Bring on the next five years," he tweeted.