For a party that had no office and faced difficulties in finding candidates in Kashmir till recently, the advantage of 2014 J-K assembly elections has clearly gone to the BJP.
Though the BJP failed to achieve its ambitious Mission 44+ target, the party can draw comfort from the fact that the tally of 25 seats is its best ever performance in the state irrespective of the chorus from opponents that it came only from the Jammu region.
The BJP also for the first time made its presence felt in Kashmir where one of its candidates, Moti Koul, came second in Srinagar’s Habba Kadal constituency while the party’s face in the valley, Heena Shafi Bhat, stood third from Amira Kadal — quite unthinkable a few years ago.
A desperate bid to woo voters in Kashmir saw the party diluting its stand on the Article 370 without caring for antagonising its support base in Jammu.
The hyperactive approach may have helped the BJP become the second largest party in the assembly but it also led to the polarisation of elections.
Political analysts widely attributed the high voter turnout in Kashmir to an anti-BJP sentiment in the valley where the people defied the boycott call given by separatists to come out in large numbers to cast their votes.
On the other hand, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) too failed to cash on the anti-incumbency against the Omar Abdullah government, which had faced flak for its failure to rise to the occasion when devastating floods ravaged the state this September.
PDP fell way short of its own expectations of winning more than 35 seats from the Valley alone and ending up clinching just 28 seats.
The National Conference (NC) too could take solace from the fact that it was able to contain the anger of the people to secure 15 seats though there would be questions about Omar’s leadership abilities given that he lost from Sonawar constituency and barely managed to win from Beerwah.