BJP to contest Panchayat polls ‘individually’, to focus on OBC Muslims of the valley

Srinagar: While the government announced that Panchayat polls would be held from February 15, the ruling BJP has intensified its campaign to make inroads in the valley and have decided to contest individually.

BJP’s cadre has started its door-to-door campaigning in the valley to garner support for the party candidates. BJP leaders have been holding meetings to discuss strategy for the upcoming Panchayat polls.

“We have intensified our campaigning in the valley for the Panchayat polls which the BJP will contest individually,” a BJP leader told KNS.

The PDP minister Abdul Haq Khan has also said that upcoming Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held on “non-party basis”.

Sources said the BJP leaders have also been seeking lists from the village heads about the problems they faced during their respective years. They are assuring them that the centre and state government would provide “all possible help” if they cast their vote in favour of its candidates.

It has been learnt that the party leaders are also luring big wigs that include former bureaucrats, politicians, retired police officers, and others, who have a strong hold in their respective areas and are asking them to campaign in favour of BJP candidates.

The BJP won 25 seats in the 2014 Assembly elections in Jammu region and the highest vote share of 23 percent for the first time in the electoral history of the state and formed a coalition government with the PDP.

To strengthen the party in Kashmir, the party has designated ministers for 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley to ‘listen’ to the grievances of the people.

Buoyed by its performance in the Assembly polls and forming government in J&K, BJP President State President, Sat Sharma, said that party cadre has geared up for the panchayat polls.

“We have huge support in all parts of the state. BJP has gained a lot of ground from the last few years in Kashmir,” he said.

He said that BJP would field its candidates in any elections in Kashmir.

‘OBC Muslims are our focus’ 

Sources said that the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party was trying to strengthen its base in Kashmir by focusing on other backward class (OBC) in the valley.

“We discussed how to strengthen the party in all three regions of the state. Our main focus will be on OBC Muslims of Kashmir region,” a BJP leader, said.

The BJP has already assigned party’s State General Secretary Narindar Singh to “create a vote bank” among OBC Muslims in the valley.

“By focusing on the marginalised groups, the BJP wants to strengthen its base in the valley. The OBCs, Gujjars are upset with valley based political parties for ignoring their demands,” he said.

The BJP in October last year also held an OBC conference in Srinagar. During the conference, the BJP leaders promised the participants that they would “address” their issues if they “strengthen” the BJP in the valley.

A BJP leader said that OBCs have been ignored by political parties of the valley. “We want to address issues of all communities of the society. The OBCs are BJP’s main focus,” the BJP leader said.

(With inputs from KNS)

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