BJP Looking For Alliance Partners In Kashmir

26 July 2014
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: In order to achieve its mission 44+ in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, scheduled to be held later this year, BJP is looking for alliance partners in Kashmir and have held talks with separatist-turned-mainstream politician, Sajjad Gani Lone. The elections for 87-member J&K Assembly will be held in October-November and BJP is working hard to achieve its mission of 44+ seats in the State polls. 'We are holding talks with like-minded politicians and parties in Kashmir to achieve our mission of 44+ seats in Assembly elections,' J&K BJP General Secretary, Ashok Koul, told Express. He said the party's national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member J P Nadda had a meeting with separatist-turned-mainstream politician, Sajjad Gani Lone at his residence in Srinagar on Thursday. Sajjad Lone's Peoples Conference has a strong base in at least five Assembly seats in North Kashmir's Kupwara district. Sajjad's brother Bilal Gani is executive member of moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. His father Abdul Gani Lone was killed by unidentified gunmen on May 21, 2002 during a rally in downtown Srinagar. Koul said it took them six months to prepare ground for meeting between party's national general secretary and Sajjad Lone. 'Besides, party is also in talks with some other parties and politicians in Valley and we are hopeful of clinching an alliance deal with them,' he said without identifying the parties and politician with whom BJP is talking. BJP has a strong base in Jammu and won both Lok Sabha seats from the province. The party also won parliamentary seat from Ladakh. Koul said the party is looking for alliance partners only in Kashmir, where people are 'fed-up with traditional parties like National Conference and PDP and want alternatives'. 'We will win 25-30 seats in Jammu, 2-3 seats in Ladakh and rest in Valley, where we would forge an alliance with smaller parties,' he said. The BJP's State leader said the mindset among Kashmir's politicians towards BJP is changing and 'they are ready to work with the party'. 'After the festival of Eid, lot of new faces will join the party and we will also announce alliance with smaller parties in Kashmir,' said another J&K BJP leader Fayaz Ahmad Bhat. He said BJP is no more untouchable in Valley and people are showing keen interest in party's policies. BJP is trying to woo Muslim leaders with strong footholds to make inroads in the Kashmir politics. Dr Heena Bhat, daughter of former MP and senior politician, Muhammad Shafi Bhat joined the party last week. Earlier, former Inspector General of Police, Farooq Khan had joined BJP during Narendra Modi's rally in Jammu in March.