Jammu and Kashmir has delivered a "resounding slap" on "terrorists, extremists, and separatists", Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said today, pointing to the results of local body elections in the newly formed Union Territory -- the first polls held there in two years. The BJP's emergence as the single largest party, the minister said, has proved that the people have shown their preference for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "larger narrative". None of the individual parties in the Gupkar Alliance -- an amalgam of seven parties -- have been able to compete with the BJP, and this, he said, was the reason behind the tie-up.
Addressing a press conference today as the final results in the election became known, Mr Prasad said the BJP has won 74 seats against the 67 seats of Omar Abdullah's National Conference, 27 of Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party and the Congress's 26 seats. The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, led by Farooq Abdullah, won 110 seats.
"The BJP got over 4.5 lakh votes, which is more than National Conference, PDP and Congress combined," Mr Prasad said.
Many of the 39 independent winners had his party's support, the senior BJP leader added. Independent candidates have emerged as big winners in Srinagar.
While the BJP put up a strong show in the Jammu region, Mr Prasad said the "lotus had bloomed in the Valley as well". In a first, the BJP won three seats in Kashmir Valley, where the National Conference, the PDP and the local parties always had a free run. The Gupkar Alliance has won 72 seats in the Valley.
"The voter turnout in Kashmir, especially in places known as 'hotbeds of terror', has been much higher than in previous elections, before the scrapping of Article 370," Mr Prasad said.
"Sopore, Pulwama, Shopian, Gandarbal which you all may know were hotbeds of terror and extremist activity, has come out in large numbers and voted. The people have shown the terrorists what they believe in. They have given a slap to those who propagate terror," Mr Prasad said.
This, he said, was because the people of Kashmir have seen a "free, fair and proper election for the first time".
"The people have seen how the election activity happens at the ground level. People have seen for the first time how a true democracy and development functions on the ground," he added.
The Gupkar Alliance -- formed with the aim of restoring special status of Jammu and Kashmir --- has brushed away the BJP claims as "propaganda".
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, tweeted, "It's amusing to see the desperation of the BJP propaganda wallas. Yesterday it was about 3 seats in the valley & today it's about being the single largest party. They aren't even embarrassed about making comparisons with @jknc which contested far fewer seats due to an alliance".
Yesterday, Mr Abdullah had pointed to the gains of the Alliance in Jammu, known to be a BJP stronghold.
"I understand the temptation to over play the 3 seats the BJP has won in the valley but why underplay the 35 wins/leads of the @JKPAGD in Jammu province. We aren't Kashmir based parties, we are political parties with strong support in both Kashmir AND Jammu," his tweet read.