Right-wing BJP becomes single largest party in J&K Upper House

Right-wing BJP becomes single largest party in J&K Upper House

In a remarkable achievement, right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has become the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council.

It is for the first time in the history that the BJP has achieved this milestone in the only Muslim majority state of the country.

While the BJP and its alliance partner in the state, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had 11 members each in the Upper House till now, the regional party's number came down to 10 after one of its Jammu based MLC resigned recently. It may take PDP a few more weeks to equalize the number of seats held by its alliance partner, but till then the BJP will carry the distinction being the single largest party in the 'House of Elders.' In 2014 Assembly elections, the BJP riding on Modi wave, bagged 25 seats, all from Jammu region.

Before that, the party had only one member in the Upper House of the J&K Assembly and it was during Farooq Abdullah's government when Daya Krishan Kotwal represented the saffron party in the Upper House from 1996 to 2002.

The existing strength of the J&K Upper House is 33. The opposition National Conference and Congress have six members each. In the 36-member house, three seats, including the seat of the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Jammu & Kashmir, Vikramaditya Singh, who recently resigned from PDP, are vacant. The two other seats are vacant due to non-holding of elections for urban local bodies in the state.

In 2014 elections, the BJP's 'Mission 44' in J&K may have failed, but the party has established itself as a powerhouse in the state politics, relegating the Congress to fourth place.

"Though BJP was not able to win even a single seat from Muslim majority Kashmir in 2014, for the first time since 1947, the BJP is fully focused on the Valley. The party has shortlisted eight to 10 constituencies in Kashmir for 2020 polls, where it has launched a massive enrollment campaign," sources said.

In 2014 Assembly polls, the saffron party roped in Muslim clerics from other states to canvass for it. Jammu and Kashmir has not given a clear mandate to any political party since the 1996 Assembly elections, which was swept by the regional National Conference with 57 seats. Since then in three successive elections in 2002, 2008 and 2014, no party has crossed 28 seat mark and coalition governments have been working in the state since then.

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