The BJP’s aim to win more than 44 seats in the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir assembly hinges on its performance in 20 constituencies in the Hindu-majority Jammu region that go to the polls in the fifth and final phase on Saturday.
But it may not be easy for the party to beat its current tally of 10 seats from the region as it faces stiff competition from the Congress with six seats under its belt and even a slight drop in votes could mar the BJP’s chances.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to woo voters by playing the Jammu versus Kashmir card at a rally in Jammu on Tuesday ahead of voting in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts as the BJP seeks to expand its national footprint after massive wins election victories in the past six months.
“I appeal to the self-respect of the Jammu that they shouldn’t allow our opponents to open an account here,” Modi said at the rally.
As the BJP tries to make inroads into the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, it has remained silent on contentious issues such as Article 370, which gives the state special status, and self-rule.
The Peoples Democratic Party is widely expected to emerge as the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir while the ruling National Conference is likely to be defeated because of strong anti-incumbency sentiment.
“The BJP can never ever form a government in J&K. It can play a role of NGO here,” said Congress minister Lal Sharma.