Buoyed by its recent performance in municipal and panchayat polls, the BJP is all set to contest from all six parliamentary constituencies in the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to party leaders, the BJP will seek a mandate from the people of the state for the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A and the state’s development.
The state has six Lok Sabha seats— three in Muslim majority Kashmir Valley, two in Hindu majority Jammu region and one in Buddhist dominated Ladakh division.
In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the saffron party won three seats, two from Jammu and one from Ladakh while in the Assembly elections, which were held by the end of 2014, the saffron party emerged victorious in 25 seats— all in Jammu region.
“Not only Jammu and Ladakh, we will also be contesting three seats in the Valley,” senior state BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta said.
The formation of an alliance government in the state with the regional People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in March 2015, and a large number of seats it won in the recently held municipal and panchayat elections has emboldened the saffron party to think that it can win from Kashmir, from where it has never won any Parliament or Assembly elections in the past.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, the BJP had the largest vote share (23%) compared to the PDP’s 22.7%, National Conference’s 20.8%, and the Congress’s 18%.
Despite this, the party’s vote share in Kashmir was a mere 2.2%. It did not even win from Ladakh, where it had earlier won one seat for Parliament and received just 22.1% of the vote share.
A political analyst said that the BJP contesting from the Valley seats a decade ago was unimaginable.
“It was unimaginable for anybody that the BJP can form a government in J&K. But they did it in alliance with the PDP. Now the party has higher ambitions and if they are voted back to power in New Delhi, the chances of the BJP will brighten in the next Assembly polls in J&K,” he said.