Kishtwar may see votes split on religious lines

  • Tarun Upadhyay, Hindustan Times, Jammu
  • Updated: Nov 21, 2014 16:48 IST

Jammu’s Muslim majority constituency Kishtwar, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will kick off the BJP’s election campaign on Saturday for the state polls, could see communal polarisation, say analysts.

The constituency is one of six in the Doda region where the BJP is banking on the division of Muslim votes among the PDP, the NC and the Congress to win a seat for the first time. “We haven’t seen such desperate and serious attempts to polarise the atmosphere by a particular party. It has strained historically harmonious relations. It may succeed in its political design but will have very dangerous after-effects,” said PDP leader Asgar Ali.

The BJP polled about 18% of the total votes and was the runners-up in four of the seats in the 2008 state election. Two of them, Kishtwar and Bhaderwah, have a history of communal tension, but the NC and the Congress managed to get a significant number of Hindu votes to keep the BJP out.

The situation, however, has changed radically following the 2013 communal riots in Kishtwar in which three people were killed. “Kishtwar riots precipitated communal tension and this is what BJP had been eyeing and wanting for so long,” said Congress spokesperson Ravinder Sharma.
BJP leaders, though, say they are fighting these polls on the plank of inclusive growth with no communal overtones.

“A lot of things have changed since then (the previous polls). PM Modi has emerged as the undisputable leader. He acts as a cementing factor. The propagandist-infused fears about the BJP have also been exposed,” said party’s campaign committee member Hari Om.

The BJP had launched the Doda Bachao Andolan in 1994 after several Hindus in the area were killed by terrorists, but the party failed to win a seat here in the assembly polls two years later.

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