Jammu Nov 13 – Fighting for the first time in a substantial way in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and setting 44 plus seats as its goal, BJP has for itself a mammoth task, and even the only odd that favoured it elsewhere, the Modi wave, is not important here.
Jammu and Kashmir has 87 seats, divided among Jammu, Kashmir and Leh-Laddakh. Jammu has 37 seats while Kashmir has 46, thus making the later more important. Unfortunately for the party, which is famous for its Hindutva ideology, Kashmir is a Muslim majority area and completely anti BJP too.
Although BJP has been trying various political permutations and combinations to get enough seats to get a majority in the state, its chances of achieving that are quite slim. It has, for the first time in its history, included Muslim candidates for elections and also floated various parties like Sajid Lone`s People`s Conference and Socialist Democratic Party which will most likely merge into it post polls, if not before.
Highly ambiguous too is BJP`s stand on Article 370, which has already made it quite unpopular in Kashmir. There is confusion weather the party will revoke, discuss or do nothing to the Article. In the absence of any defining manifesto, with local spokespersons saying what suits their position best, the situation is a complete mystery, which is not benefiting the party in any way. People are suspicious of BJP`s intentions.
It is not surprising that even in Jammu the opposition to BJP is becoming vocal. A Citizen Forum banner in Jammu city reads, ‘44+ or 0+, we are not bothered.’
Another important development which is likely to be detrimental for BJP is the inner friction in the party. Already a tussle has started between the party high command and its local Kashmiri candidates. Responding to BJP`s Jitendra Singh that the party has a clear stand on the article and it will be included in the manifesto, Hina Bhatt, BJP`s candidate from Amirakadal, Kashmir said that she will take up arms if the article is touched.
But when all is said and done, considering BJP`s involvement in J&K`s development earlier, its mission 44+ seems rather a miscalculated move.
By: Ishan Kukreti