BJP sets ‘Mission 44’ target for J&K polls

BJP In KashmirAudacious as its sounds, BJP has set an ambitious “Mission 44” target aimed at gaining a majority in the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir assembly in the coming state polls that the party feels will be highly polarised.
The first shot of the J-K polls was fired in Lok Sabha last week when PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti utilized the Gaza debate to demand India’s “intervention” arguing that being a nuclear power amounted to naught if the government could not bring Israel to heel.
The tenor of Mehbooba’s speech, said BJP sources, provides a good indicator to the assembly polls that will be fought in the wake of the NDA’s big win in the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP leadership is of the view that the party can afford to “think big” in the light of the Lok Sabha results and the break-up of the National Conference-Congress alliance.
BJP’s target has been set following a couple of rounds of discussions between the state unit and newly installed BJP chief Amit Shah and its specifics are being worked out for further deliberation.
Even if the majority score is a tough ask, the party feels it can rapidly improve on the 11 MLAs it has in the assembly.
The decision to try and emerge as a major player in a state where BJP has so far had a limited presence follows an initial assessment that the political situation in J-K is potentially favourable to the party.
BJP would aim at consolidating its presence on the 37 seats in the Jammu region while looking to back or field influential Muslim independents in the Valley that has 46 seats.
The strategy to welcome Muslim leaders who might want to leave NC or PDP or other influential individuals could help BJP pick up crucial seats, party sources said.
Though the NC-Congress split had not occurred when the BJP meetings took place, a parting of ways seemed imminent enough for the saffron leadership to factor it into its calculations.
BJP’s is looking to sustain the momentum generated by its wins in Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh – it won the last seat by a mere 36 votes – in the assembly elections.
The party feels Congress’s fortunes are unlikely to revive despite its move to snap ties with the NC-led government that is widely perceived to be deeply unpopular.
The obvious gainer from the NC-Congress split could be PDP that has been waiting in the wings and might consider a deal with Congress.
BJP is keen to stall a clear majority for PDP as it feels this does not suit its political interests. BJP would hope that NC retains pockets of its influence at PDP’s expense and Congress allies in areas like Ladakh lose ground.

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