Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Monday told the people of Jammu that his party would ensure that the region, which has been subjected to ‘step-motherly’ treatment by governments in the last 60 years, gets justice.
Shah, currently touring states going to Assembly polls in the next few months, was addressing a rally in Jammu city. Electoral success is crucial for the BJP in Jammu if it is to achieve its ‘mission 44+’ in the state. Jammu and Kashmir is scheduled for Assembly elections later this year.
BJP has made winning 44 seats in the 87-member J&K Assembly its target. It hopes to win enough seats to either form a government on its own or in alliance with one of the state parties. Jammu has 37 seats, Ladakh region four and Kashmir valley 46. The BJP won an unprecedented three of six Lok Sabha seats in the state in the May general elections. It bagged 32.4 per cent votes, followed by Congress’ 22.9 per cent with People’s Democratic Party winning 20.5 per cent votes.
The BJP hopes to maximize seats in the Jammu and Ladakh regions. It also hopes to win at least eight seats in Kashmir, which still have a Kashmiri Pandit population. According to sources, the party is also likely to ask those among Kashmiri Pandits who have left the valley in recent years to return to vote for the party. The party hopes that this, coupled with four-cornered fights as well as boycott calls by separatist groups would ensure a turn out so low that it would give it a chance to win some of these eight seats.
Poaching established leaders from all other parties to bolster its ranks is also a strategy that BJP is pursuing vigorously in Jammu and Kashmir. On Monday, two-time Congress MP Lal Singh joined BJP in Shah’s presence. National Conference and People’s Democratic Party leaders from Kashmir have also joined BJP in the last few weeks.
Shah said at a rally on Monday that the BJP-government would redress all historical wrongs the state was subjected to. He appealed to the people to make politics in the state free of dynasts like the National Conference’s Abdullahs, as also the Muftis of the People’s Democratic Party.
The BJP president said his party would help get justice to those who suffered during the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. On continued shelling by Pakistan along the border, he said, the BJP regime would give a befitting reply to Islamabad.
In the 2008 elections, National Conference had won 28 seats, Congress 17, PDP 21 and BJP 11.