BJP Mantra- Will it Work in Valley?
Buoyed by its recent performance in municipal and panchayat polls, the BJP is all set to contest from all six parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. The saffron party which seek a mandate from the country for the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A and the development, is much busy in playing with the sentiments of valley people. The state has six Lok Sabha seats— three in Kashmir Valley, two Jammu region and one in Buddhist dominated Ladakh division. The main competition though it seems is between the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party and the People’s Conference. The only candidate said to pose even a remote challenge may be said to the Chief of Awami Itihad Party (AIP) Er Rasheed. Pungent in his criticism of all political parties, it seems he is more than eager to relinquish his one-trick pony image. He may be a tough candidate to beat given the size of crowds he is able to up for his rallies in north Kashmir. In fact, the entertainment quotient of Er Rasheed is in fact music to New Delhi’s ears because it would ensure the collective voting percentage is at least a respectable 20 percent from valley. In the 2014 parliamentary elections, BJP won three seats, two from Jammu and one from Ladakh while in the Assembly elections, which were held by the end of 2014, the saffron party emerged victorious in 25 seats— all in Jammu region. One thing already going to its favour in rest states is that the brand Modi remains still very much relevant, despite the fatigue that might have already set in among a significant section of the population. And the PM’s lingering honeymoon in power is an indication that the BJP can still very much pull it off. In Modi, India has a leader doing an emotionally charged politics. Prime Minister Modi once said he does not need any advice “from anyone in the world” on how to handle Kashmir. That was in 2015. It is now the Centre’s responsibility, through the governor, to ensure that conditions are created for a free and fair democratic exercise to take place sooner rather than later. With the anger over the Article 35-A, 370, this will not be easy. But it is the only way out.