BJP not to field candidates against Lone's party
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be reaching out to the People's Conference (PC) led by Sajjad Lone, patronising a significant separatist cadre, to accomplish "Mission-44" and is unlikely to field candidates against the PC candidates in north Kashmir with 15 assembly seats.india Updated: Nov 05, 2014 09:12 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be reaching out to the People's Conference (PC) led by Sajjad Lone, patronising a significant separatist cadre, to accomplish "Mission-44" and is unlikely to field candidates against the PC candidates in north Kashmir with 15 assembly seats.
Lone (47), younger son of assassinated Hurriyat chairman Abdul Ghani Lone, has dropped broad hints at having tactical alliance with the BJP keeping in view any fractured post-poll scenario. Author of the 'Achievable Nationhood' document, seeking economic independence of Jammu and Kashmir and more political control, Lone recently became first important once-Hurriyat-constituent to field candidates from 18 assembly segments, mainly in north Kashmir. He has significant traditional vote bank, many votaries of separatism, in north Kashmir's Handwara, Rafiabad, Kupwara and Langate constituencies.
Lone met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav in Srinagar recently, second such major meeting with the BJP this year. In an interview to a newspaper, Lone kept doors of alliance open with the BJP.
"I have no fixed mindset and for me, the distinction between the BJP and the Congress is immaterial because they have only a nuanced difference on Kashmir. Any coalition depends on post-poll scenario," he told the newspaper. He also praised the BJP leadership for approaching him. Lone's open post-poll alliance increases the BJP's chances to increase its kitty from the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, where it is reinventing itself as a new alternative as a national party.
"Our sole poll plank is development. Kashmir has every right to grow and develop like any other part of the country under Modiji's patronage. We will realise the dream to develop Kashmir," said BJP spokesman Kahoid Jehangeer.
Sources within the BJP told the Hindustan Times that the party is mulling not to field candidates against the PC candidates in north Kashmir "to lend tactical support to its cadre". "This will make PC cadre more confident to contest the polls," said a BJP leader on the condition of anonymity.
The BJP has so far fielded 11 candidates from the Valley with 46 seats. None has been fielded from north Kashmir where Lone's party has cadre-based voters, except for Rafiabad. The party is yet to field candidate from Handwara where Lone is pitted against the strong People's Democratic Party and National Conference candidates.
The BJP is eyeing to win seats with significant migrant votes. It has already put forth Kashmiri Pandit candidate Moti Kaul from Srinagar's Habbakadal constituency with around 1,50,00 migrant votes out of around 52,000. The constituency witnessed single digit turnout in the 2008 assembly polls and the BJP sees hope to win the seat in separatists boycott, though Lok Janshakti Party candidate Sanjay Saraf will spilt the non-Muslim votes there.
Similarly, the BJP eyes hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani's hometown Sopore, Srinagar's Amira Kadal, where the party has roped in Dr Hina Bhat, daughter of former National Conference MLA, to win over Pandit and Muslim votes equally.
In south Kashmir, the BJP is lending a tactical support to smaller parties, like the Kashmir Republican Party to win from constituencies like Tral that witnessed less than five percent polling in the parliamentary polls earlier this year.
The BJP's attempt to reach out to the Awami Ittehad Party had failed to yield any result. The party is even meeting smaller parties' candidates individually to fill the seat deficit. During the parliamentary polls, the BJP was leading in 27 assembly constituencies, mostly in the Jammu region. It needs around 44 seats to form the government and is banking heavily on smaller parties in the Kashmir Valley.
CPM general secretary MY Tarigami, who represents south Kashmir's Kulgam constituency and is planning to contest from the same seat, told the Hindustan Times that the BJP was "daydreaming". "The BJP did not approach us, neither did we hold any meetings with them except one in Delhi regarding the flood situation with the Union home minister... but I can say with confidence that the BJP is daydreaming.
There is no problem dreaming about anything but daydreaming is not good." He asked the BJP leadership to desist from "playing any politics of polarisation".
The BJP is so keen to rope in the Muslim voters in the Kashmir Valley that it has shelved Kashmiri Pandits' return issue and abrogation of Article 370 for time being. No leader during their visit to the Valley touched these two issues, not even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the state twice last month.