The BJP is buoyant in the state and it has every reason to be. The party has, for the first time, secured lead in 29 of the 87 Assembly segments covering the six Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir. Not just that, it is optimistic about further improving its tally in the Assembly elections, and form the government in the state.
During the recent elections, the BJP maintained a lead in 25 segments of Jammu, 3 in Ladakh and one in Kashmir by retaining three of the six Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Top BJP leaders are hopeful that the party would secure the magic figure of 44 to form the government. Narendra Modi had, during the last assembly elections in 2014, fixed the target of winning 44 seats but the party got 25 seats in Jammu and supported the Kashmir-centric PDP to come to power.
However, the BJP had to face the ire of people when its ministers failed miserably to protect the interests of the Jammu region and surrendered before the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on vital issues, as reported. BJP General Secretary, Ram Madhav, had to rush here several times to undertake damage control exercise.
This time also, the BJP leadership is learned to have prepared an alternate plan to go with the Peoples Conference (PC) of Sajad Lone if the party fails to reach the figure of 44 in the assembly. The BJP is already supporting the PC in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Madhav and other senior party leaders were reportedly in constant touch with Lone.
The BJP leadership is buoyant after having secured a lead in three of the four assembly segments in Ladakh. They are also upbeat over the lead secured by the BJP candidate in the terrorism infested South Kashmir’s Tral segment. However, the lead in Tral was possible because of the Kashmiri Pandit migrants voting for the BJP from the polling booths especially set up in Jammu and New Delhi.
The party was reportedly persuading the authorities to do away with the M-Form for the migrants so as to secure their votes in bulk in the Assembly elections that might be announced after the Amarnath pilgrimage concludes on August 15.
The state BJP chief Ravinder Raina is in high spirits as the party had for the first time touched the figure of 46.4% votes in the state which was more than that of the Congress, National Conference (NC) and PDP.
The opposition parties are accusing the BJP of having made compromises to form the government with Mehbooba Mufti when the party signed the agenda of alliance with the PDP stating that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir would not be touched and steps taken to initiate dialogue with the separatists and other stakeholders in J&K. NC leader Devender Singh Rana has accused the BJP of misleading and betraying the people on these sensitive issues in a bid to grab power.
In its Lok Sabha election manifesto, the BJP had made the commitment of abrogating Article 370 and annulling Article 35A which is the demand of the majority in Jammu and Ladakh divisions. However, the Kashmiri leaders are opposed to any tinkering with these provisions.
Meanwhile, BJP’s state spokesperson Brigadier Anil Gupta (Retired), on Wednesday, said, “Rattled and unnerved by the massive mandate received by Bharatiya Janata Party, the leadership of National Conference has begun its ugly campaign of lies and falsehood to mislead the people, as a prelude to its campaign for the assembly elections likely to be held in the near future”.
The vote share of the NC in the recent elections has dwindled to 7%.
How people can trust such a political party whose hallmark is “opportunistic politics”, asked Gupta.
He said that sensing the dynasty to be in danger, the NC is trying to “lure” the people through “lollipop politics” by promising regional councils, which it strongly opposed in the past and wanted nothing else but Greater Autonomy in order to further suppress the aspirations of Jammu and Ladakh.