6 Kashmir constituencies on BJP radar

‘KP electorate would prove decisive in these segments’ Assembly polls

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll plan in Kashmir is “primarily focused” on six Assembly constituencies and the party is banking on the people supporting “nationalistic viewpoint” to see through its strategy in the upcoming assembly elections. Sopore, the home constituency of separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, Habba Kadal and Amira Kadal in Srinagar, Tral in Pulwama and Anantnag (Islamabad) and Bijbehara constituencies in south Kashmir are at the center of the party’s Kashmir poll strategy.
“First time after 1947, the BJP is fully focused on Kashmir,” said a senior BJP leader, who’s part of the team handling Kashmir elections. “The party has shortlisted eight to 10 constituencies but the focus is on six.”
The party, which has launched a massive enrollment campaign in entire Kashmir, is banking on the participation of the Pandit migrant voters from the constituencies in the electoral process to get hold of these assembly segments. 
“We believe participation of Pandits from these six constituencies in the election process would prove decisive,” said party spokesman for Kashmir, Khalid Jehangir. “We are working on a multi-pronged strategy to mobilize the community voters.”
Take the instance of Habba Kadal. In 2008 elections, NC’s Shameema Firdous who won the constituency secured 2374 votes while her nearest rival Hira Lal Chatta bagged 671 votes. The constituency, which has traditionally sided with the separatists, has at present the electoral strength of 52790 which is expected to go up once the rolls are updated. 
The migrant Pandits constitute a sizeable vote population and in the just concluded Lok Sabha polls 15880 migrant voters were registered from Habba Kadal. 
“The challenge is to ensure that the migrant Pandits come out to vote,” said Jehangir. “We are quite optimistic that these are the people who will vote for nationalistic view,” he said.
Another young face of the party from Srinagar’s Amira Kadal constituency Hina Bhat, a dentist, said the BJP was no longer an “outside” party in Kashmir. “What is wrong if BJP comes to power in the State? Unlike other parties we don’t have any baggage in Kashmir,” said Hina, who is likely to get party ticket from Amira Kadal.
Amira Kadal as per the details has 4417 migrant voters registered with the State Election Department out of total electoral strength of 84123.  In 2008 elections, NC’s Nasir Aslam Wani had secured 3922 votes defeating his rival from PDP by less than 800 votes.
“Not only Pandits, our focus are also the youth who have been the victims of the ongoing situation in Kashmir,” said Hina. 
In Sopore, though the registered migrant voters are just 1724 out of the total 101958 registered electorate, the BJP would be banking on boycott to turn the tide in its favor.  In the recently-held parliament polls, only 1.02 percent electorate exercised their franchise.
“Why can’t BJP win Sopore?” asked Hina. “Today people are queuing to fight elections on BJP ticket.”
The Tral constituency which has a voter population of over 7400 persons comprising of migrant Pandits and people from other community, the BJP is working on the election campaign to outsmart the regional parties. The constituency registered less than two percent voting in the parliament polls.
During the recently-held parliament polls 33336 migrant voters had registered themselves with state Election department in three districts of central Kashmir—Ganderbal, Srinagar and Budgam. “We are expecting this figure will rise to 45000,” he said. 
In entire Kashmir the BJP is expecting that its campaign to get the migrant Pandits living in Jammu, New Delhi and elsewhere enrolled would add up 25000 to 35000 new voters.
To boost its position in Kashmir after the Assembly elections, the party is simultaneously working on a plan to go for an alliance with the “likeminded and accommodative” parties. “In electoral process, the figures play an important role at the end of the day and in such a case will not close the option of working out combinations,” said the BJP leader.