Updated February 24th, 2024 at 15:36 IST

BJP Unveils Lok Sabha Election Strategies For Jammu and Kashmir, Proposed Candidates List Revealed

With an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, BJP is determined not only to maintain but also to increase its seats.

BJP | Image:ANI
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Jammu: In the wake of an electrifying kickoff to the election campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Maulana Azad Stadium in Jammu, Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) unit has proposed nine potential candidates for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

This customary process involves each state/UT unit suggesting candidates for each seat, with the final decision resting with the party's central leadership.

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Party sources reveal that, J&K BJP President Ravinder Raina stands out among the recommendations, being put forward for two Lok Sabha seats:- Jammu-Reasi and the newly delineated Rajouri-Poonch-Anantnag constituency.

Accompanying Raina for the Jammu-Reasi seat are Sat Sharma, a former cabinet minister, and sitting MP Jugal Kishore Sharma.

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Meanwhile, for the Udhampur-Kathua-Doda Lok Sabha seat, the recommended candidates include Shakti Parihar and Narain Singh. In the newly-created Rajouri-Poonch-Anantnag constituency, the BJP has suggested Raina along with Dr. Shehnaj Ganai and Talib Hussain.

Of particular interest to the BJP is securing victory in the Rajouri-Poonch-Anantnag Lok Sabha Seat, with the party exploring various strategies, including leveraging recent reservations granted to Paharis.

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However, sources within the party have indicated that sitting MPs Jugal Kishore Sharma and Dr. Jitendra Singh will not be considered as candidates for the upcoming elections.

In preparation for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, BJP is resolute not only in maintaining but also increasing its seats. While Jammu and Udhampur present favorable conditions, Anantnag poses challenges due to recent delimitation changes. The inclusion of areas like Poonch and Rajouri bolsters the BJP's support base, encompassing Gujjar-Bakerwal, Pahari Muslim and Hindu communities. The party's targeted outreach to tribal communities and its developmental initiatives in Kashmir emphasize its confidence.

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Editor-in-Chief of Daily Uqab, Manzoor Anjum, highlights the BJP's prospects in Anantnag hinge on the impact of post-2022 delimitation, especially with the addition of Poonch and Rajouri.

“BJP is determined to increase its seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. While Jammu and Udhampur are favorable, Anantnag presents challenges post-2022 delimitation. Addition of areas like Poonch and Rajouri strengthens BJP's base, including Gujjar-Bakerwal, Pahari Muslim and Hindu communities. Party’s focus on tribal outreach in Kashmir emphasizes confidence,” said Daily Uqab's Editor-in-Chief, Manzoor Anjum.

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Before 2022, nearly 90 % of Anantnag’s electorate was Kashmiri Muslim, with Gujjar-Bakarwals making up only 10%. After the delimitation, the number of Gujjar-Bakerwal voters is estimated to have increased to 30-35%, besides a significant increase in the number of Paharis, including Hindus.

“No mainstream political party in Kashmir has ever fielded a Gujjar candidate in the Lok Sabha elections so far. However, the buzz is that this time, the NC plans to field prominent Gujjar leader Mian Altaf from Anantnag, replacing its sitting MP Justice (retired) Masoodi.

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“However, PDP wants Anantnag for its president Mehbooba Mufti. Both the NC and the PDP are part of the Gupkar Alliance, formed to fight against the abrogation of Article 370 and for the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, apart from being members of the Opposition I.N.D.I coalition,” added Anjum.

 Meanwhile, BJP has also invested heavily in tribals, nominating a member of the community to the Rajya Sabha, apart from putting its weight behind the community during successive incidents, whether it be in the aftermath of the gangrape and murder of the eight-year-old Bakerwal girl in Kathua’s ‘Rasana forests’ in 2019-- the killing of Army jawan ‘Aurangzeb’ by terrorists; the killing of ‘three boys’ from Rajouri in a fake encounter by some Army personnel in Shopian and even the incident, in which three youths from ‘Topa Pir village’ in Poonch died allegedly in Army custody.

BJP leadership views that they are confident of doing well in Kashmir also as they have been able to connect with the masses extensively for the last several years. They say the people are happy with the development work and welfare schemes by the BJP government.

Dr. Daraksha Andrabi, Waqf Board Chairperson, emphasizes the BJP's goal of not just retaining but expanding its seat count in Jammu and Kashmir.

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“The party's strategic vision encompasses making significant inroads in constituencies like Srinagar-Budgam and Baramulla-Kupwara. With a focus on diverse demographics, including the Pahadi population, the BJP aims to solidify its position in the region,” said Dr Andrabi.

“With considerable support from Gujjar-Bakerwal, Pahari Muslim and Hindu voters in Poonch and Rajouri post-delimitation, the BJP is expected to strengthen its electoral standing,” she added.

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As for Ladakh, it remains to be seen how the new BJP wave is going to affect the parliamentary polls there. Last year, NC-Congress combine had won the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Kargil polls. The parties are intending to field a joint candidate against the BJP for Lok Sabha polls.

“Now, since the central government has resumed talks with the Ladakh leadership to discuss the latter’s demands, it too can affect the parliamentary polls in the cold desert. If the talks make some forward movement, this can help,” said Anjum.

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Published February 24th, 2024 at 13:37 IST