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Valley-based parties trying hard to win over Jammu

india Updated: Dec 18, 2014 21:38 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times

The BJP's 'Mission Kashmir' has, besides other things, made the 2014 elections a pan-state affair, something that was rarely the case in the past.

While the first four phases saw leaders from BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, trying to woo voters in the Muslim-majority Valley, the entire Kashmiri leadership, from the daughter-father duo of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti to the incumbent chief minister Omar Abdullah, has been camping in Jammu to woo voters there.

Abdullah, who was seen campaigning for his alliance partner Congress during the Lok Sabha elections in May, has been trying hard to garner votes for his own party this time as the two split after drubbing in the parliamentary elections.

His National Conference party, which has mainly won from the Valley besides the Muslim seats of the Jammu region, bagged only two from the 20 seats going to polls on December 20. But this time around Abdullah is hopeful of a good show in the Hindu-majority region as well.

"At the end of the fourth phase we were confident that we will increase our tally in Jammu region,'' said party's Jammu chief and Abdullah's aide, Devender Rana.

Even the PDP, which has so far been seen as a Kashmir-centric party, is also making inroads in the Jammu region. The party had opened account in only two seats in Jammu region in 2008. Out of the 20 going to vote in the fifth phase, PDP represents only one.

While PDP officials are hopeful of increasing their tally in Poonch and Rajouri districts, party spokesman Naeem Aktar also said they are getting a good response in the Jammu district as well.

"We are hopeful of getting some seats this time,'' said Aktar, who was in Rajouri on the last day of campaigning for the fifth phase on Wednesday.

In the final phase of the polls on December 20 all twenty seats are in Jammu.

The last state election, in 2008, was highly polarised between Kashmir and Jammu after the Amarnath Land row - there were widespread protests over transfer of land in Valley to a Hindu-shrine. Following the different stands on the issue, the plains of Jammu and Kashmir had voted in a very politically polarised manner.

In 2008 the election was held after the agitation and the BJP for the first time managed to win 11 seats in the state assembly. The Panthers Party also took their tally to four. The rest of the seats in Jammu district (Hindu majority areas) had gone to Congress.

Kashmir based parties like PDP and NC could not open their accounts in these areas that year. But this year could be different as the fact that BJP has seemingly failed to make much of an impact in the rest of the state might have an effect on voters in other regions as well.