BJP’s failure to field candidate in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag dampens workers’ enthusiasm - Hindustan Times

BJP’s failure to field candidate in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag dampens workers’ enthusiasm

ByMir Ehsan, Srinagar
Apr 22, 2024 03:15 PM IST

The BJP is now expected to back other candidates considered close to the party in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag

Despite buzz of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) jumping into fray Kashmir’s Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, especially since former chief minister (CM) Ghulam Nabi Azad’s withdrawal from the election race, no candidate from the party has been fielded from the constituency.

 (HT File)
(HT File)

With the process for filing nominations coming to a close, the number of candidates now stands at 21 — 25 had filed their papers but four withdrew — for the newly carved out constituency comprising parts of south Kashmir and districts of Pirpanchal after delimitation.

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The BJP is now expected to back other candidates considered close to the party. According to the information, however, party workers have been left disheartened by the high command’s decision.

“We won’t support anybody. Many people say Sajjad Lone is our candidate, but he is the candidate for the People’s Conference and not our party. We are not going to support anyone other than our own candidate,” party leader Raja Waqar told his supporters at a function in North Kashmir.

BJP state spokesperson Altaf Thakur also said the party’s decision not to field candidates from Kashmir has also taken a toll on the workers’ enthusiasm, adding, “Our workers were eagerly waiting for candidates but we will support every party decision.”

A former BJP legislator said the party should have not left Kashmir to allies who are not even ready to acknowledge the party’s support. “Our workers are not happy with the decision. This time, we were hopeful that the party would make an impact on ground as we had made inroads in every part of Kashmir,” he said.

Will support ‘patriotic’ candidates: Raina

BJP Jammu and Kashmir president Ravinder Raina on Saturday told reporters in Jammu that the party will offer support to “patriotic” candidates contesting the three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir, “We were interested in fielding candidates from Kashmir, but sometimes the decisions have to be taken keeping the future in consideration.”

BJP has been contesting elections in Jammu and Kashmir from the early 90s, however, the party could never put up a strong show in the Valley. After 2014, when the BJP stormed to power at the Centre and formed a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir with the Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party, the party began consolidating its base in Kashmir and opened up offices in every district.

In 2020, the party also managed to win DDC seat in Srinagar and local leaders were hopeful of replicating the success in the assembly polls especially post abrogation of Article 370 and delimitation.

“BJP workers will abide by every party decision, but it will be difficult for our voters to transfer their votes for other symbols. As a loyal soldier we will do what our party high command conveys us. So far nothing has been conveyed to us,” said Fayaz Ahmad, another BJP leader.

In the last two years, BJP held two big rallies in Kashmir, one was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another by home minister Amit Shah drawing big crowds further raising hopes of the party fielding candidates from the Valley.

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah, meanwhile, has maintained that the BJP is relying on proxy candidates, “B and C teams” in the Valley, referencing the Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference and Altaf Bukhari’s Apni Party. Recently BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir in-charge Tarun Chug had also held a meeting with Lone and Bukhari at latter’s residence in Srinagar.

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