A Survey of Elections in Kashmir

10 Apr, 2002    ·   717

Mayil Vaganan surveys all the ten elections to the Jammu and Kashmir

The six-year term of the current Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly expires in October 2002. The stage for the next elections had been set by Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, who had announced that elections would be held ‘very soon’. With India and Pakistan not able to find any solution to the Kashmir issue, elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly has assumed significance, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 and December 13 events. The Hurriyat has refused to participate in the elections and has announced its own election commission to conduct elections. 

This article presents information on the elections held so far in Jammu and Kashmir and their results.

1950 Elections

Elections to the first Constituent Assembly of the Jammu and Kashmir State were held on 15 October 1950 to frame a separate Constitution for the state. The J&K Constitution envisaged 100 seats for the Legislative Assembly, with 25 seats reserved for the people living in ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’. Elections were conducted for only 75 seats.

1951 Elections

The first election to the J&K Legislative Assembly was held on 15 October 1951. The National Conference (NC) won all the 75 seats, out of which 73 were unopposed. It was unique in the history of elections. 

1957 Elections

The second Legislative Assembly elections for Jammu and Kashmir were held on 24 February  and 15 March  1957, and for Ladakh and Doda Assembly constituencies at the end of May. The NC contested with a manifesto based on ‘Naya Kashmir’. It captured 68 out of 75 seats with 57.4  percent of votes polled in that election, whilst the Praja Parishad got 5 seats with 24.6  percent of votes; the Harijan Mandal got 6.0  percent of votes with 1 seat, and independent secured 9.5  percent of votes and 1 seat.

The opposition parties alleged that the 1957 elections were ‘rigged’ and demanded fresh elections. Parties like the Plebiscite Front and Democratic National Conference (Saraf group) had even boycotted the elections on the grounds that they were not fairly conducted. 

1962 Elections

The third elections to the State Legislative Assembly were held on February 24 in Jammu and March 25 in Kashmir. The NC won 70 seats and secured 67.0  percent, Praja Parishad got 17.5  percent votes and won 3 seats, the independents won 2 seats with 7.4  percent of votes. The percentage of votes polled in the election was 72.8  percent.

In May 1965, the Jammu and Kashmir constitution was amended and the denomination of ‘Prime Minister’, and, ‘Sadar-i-Riyast’ were changed to Chief Minister and Governor respectively. 

1967 Elections

In the 1967 general elections, the Indian National Congress won 61seats and secured 53.0  percent out of 58.8  percent votes polled. The National Conference got 8 seats with 17.1  percent votes, Jan Sangh 3 seats with 16.5  percent votes and independents 3 seats with 8.6  percent votes. The CPI contested 3 seats but did not win any. It got only 0.54  percent of the votes polled. The PSP (Praja Socialist Party) also fielded 3 candidates but all of them lost.

1972 Elections

The fifth State Legislative Assembly election was held in March 1972. The votes polled in the election were 66.3  percent. The Indian National Congress won 58 seats with 55.4  percent votes; the Bharatiya Janata Party 3 and got 9.8  percent votes; the Jamat-e-Islami won 5 with 7.2  percent votes, and independents got 9 seats with 26.8 percent votes.

In February 1975, Sheikh Abdullah of the National Conference formed a government after a gap of 22 years along with a breakup faction of the Congress comprising Mirza Mohd. Afzal Beg, Thakurdevi Dass and Sona Monarboo. 

Later, in March 1977 Sheikh Abdullah lost a no-confidence motion against his government by the Congress. The state of Jammu and Kashmir then came under Governor’s rule on 27 March 1977. 

1977 Elections

The 1977 Kashmir elections were held after the rout of the Indira Congress at the hands of the Janata Party following the Emergency. The NC led by Sheikh Abdullah won 47 of the 76 seats in the Legislative Assembly securing 46.2 percent of votes. In that election 67.7 percent of votes were polled. The total seats in the assembly were increased by delimitation from 75 to 76. The Indian National Congress won 11 seats with 16.9 percent of votes, Janata party won 13 with 23.7 percent of votes, Jamat-el-islami 1 seat with 3.6 percent of votes and Jan Sangh rebels got 4 seats with 9.5 percent of votes. 

Sheikh Abdullah formed the government and extended the life of the Assembly by one-year to six years by amending the Jammu and Kashmir State Constitution. In September 1982, Dr. Farooq Abdullah became the Chief Minister after the death of his father, Sheikh Abdullah. 

1983 Elections

Elections were held in March 1983, in which the NC led by Dr. Farooq Abdullah came to power after winning a majority with 46 seats. It secured 47.3 percent votes out of 73.2 percent total votes polled. The Congress won 26 seats bagging 30.3 percent votes, Panthers Party (Bhim Singh) and the People’s Conference (Abdul Ghani Lone) won one seat each with 4.6 percent of votes polled, the remaining 2 seats being won by independents who got 5.1 percent of votes.

Within one year of its rule, the NC split. Ghulam Mohd. Shah of the break way section of the NC came to power in July 1984, being supported by the Congress, and continued till March 1986. 

In March 1986 the J&K Legislative Assembly was placed under suspended animation and the Governor assumed all the legislative and executive powers. Subsequently the state came under President’s rule in September 1986; the Assembly was finally dismissed on 7 November 1986.

1987 Elections

Elections were held in March 1987, in which the Congress and the NC formed an alliance. The coalition parties swept the polls winning 63 seats in which the National Conference got 32.99 percent and Congress (I) 20.2 percent of votes. The BJP won 2 seats, Muslim Front Party (MUFP) 4 and independents won 4 seats. Elections for Bhadrawah, Leh and Kargil were held in June that year, which were also won by the Congress-NC alliance. Dr. Farooq Abdullah became the Chief Minister.

In January 1990 the Jammu and Kashmir State came under the Governor’s rule again. The Assembly was placed under suspended animation and subsequently dissolved on 19 February 1990. The State remained under President’s rule from July 1990 to 1996. 

1996 Elections

In mid 1995, the Government of India recommended an early election in Jammu and Kashmir to the Election Commission. However, in November 1995, the three member Election Commission unanimously rejected the government’s recommendations as it felt that conditions in the State were not conducive for holding them. 

Later, in 1996, elections were held for 87 Legislative Assembly seats after an upward revision of the constituencies from 76 to 87. The Jammu region has 37 Assembly seats against 46 for the Kashmir valley and 4 for Ladakh.  The polling percentage was 53.92 percent.

The NC contested in 81 seats and won 57 securing 34.7 percent. The BJP won 8 and got 12.1 percent of votes; the Congress 7 and secured 20.0 percent of votes; Congress (Tiwari) 1 with 0.7 percent of votes; Janata Dal 5 seats and 10.8 percent of votes; Bahujan Samaj Party 4 and 6.4 percent of votes; Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party with 2.25 percent of votes and 1 seat; Jammu and Kashmir Awami League 1 seat and 2.4 percent of votes, independents 2 seats with 9.3 percent of votes.