SRINAGAR: Has the BJP, by hook or crook, managed to carve out space for itself in Kashmir by managing to win more than 100 municipal wards? The BJP believes so, but the two main political parties of Kashmir, both of which boycotted the municipal polls – PDP and NC – are confident that the BJP won’t ever gain a foothold in the Valley.
The BJP won 60 percent of the more than 100 wards in Kashmir unopposed, and the rest were won by very small margins. The party’s Kashmir in-charge for the municipal polls, Tariq Khan, nevertheless believes that the win is a milestone for the BJP.
“Now the ground is in our hands,” he told Kashmir Reader. “Our workers will work for the party’s core political agenda. We want Kashmir to speak directly to India, without Pakistan. BJP is seen as anti-Muslim, but it is not. We will change this perception and win the next elections on the back of development.”
“One has to admit,” Tariq said, “that India is a Hindu majority country, where Muslims are trying to overpower them. How is this possible? It goes against the spirit of democracy. Yes, Muslims have to maintain their space in limits. Centuries ago, it was Muslims ruling the sub-continent, now it is the turn of Hindus. I don’t think my identity as a Muslim is under threat.”
National Conference (NC) general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar told Kashmir Reader that the BJP is itself ashamed of the process by which they won the “farcical elections”.
“Our constituency is intact,” Sagar asserted. “The polling percentage says it all. Who has voted in this election? Winning elections by a few votes or unopposed shows the BJP’s ground presence in Kashmir. The poll which was held by compromising rules and laws must be recorded in the Guinness World Records.”
A senior PDP leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the party’s aim in staying away from the polls was to protect the lives of its workers, who were the main targets of militants. Yes, he said, the boycott may have given some ground to the BJP, but it is temporary.
“Who will vote for the BJP in Kashmir? Even a novice knows that. We are not befuddled by anything and will come back. BJP could not sustain its win in Leh and Kargil, how will they do it in Kashmir, where there is only hate against them?” the PDP leader said.