BJP Eyes Muslim-dominated Areas In J&K

11 November 2008
Daily News & Analysis

Srinagar: Seemingly trying to shed the “communal” tag, the BJP has fielded 27 Muslim candidates in key constituencies in a bid to create a foothold in the Muslim-dominated areas across Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP is contesting more than 60 seats in the state and out of which 45% tickets have been given to Muslim candidates. Majority of the candidates have been fielded in the valley where they are having a tough competition with the two traditional rivals - the National Conference and the PDP. “We hope to win some seats in the valley because the people have realized that we are going to stay here. As far a communal tag is concerned, it is just a propaganda unleashed by the militants and fundamentalists. We will show our strength on the election days when people will vote for us,” said Shamsher Singh, general secretary of the state BJP. BJP is riding high on the post-Amaranth land agitation in Jammu while as in Kashmir it is still not a force to reckon with. In last assembly elections the party had fielded 28 Muslim candidates but none of them won the seat from anywhere in the state. The BJP also contested all the three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir but drew blank. This time around, Muslim candidates are banking on the Vajpayee’s peace initiatives that they say have helped in improving the situation in the embattled Jammu and Kashmir.