Will faction-ridden BJP get 44-plus seats in Kashmir?


bjppJammu: Given the internal bickering between its factions, it is clear that all is not well within the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. And yet the party has set itself a lofty target of 44-plus seats in the forthcoming state assembly elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party suspended seven of its assembly members after it surfaced that they voted against the party whip during the legislative council polls in 2011.

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Jammu and Kashmir has a bicameral legislature. Members of the legislative assembly are elected directly by the people while the members of the council are elected by the members of the 87-member assembly.

The BJP has 11 MLAs in the state.

Although the party won both the Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats, yet the party leadership in the state is plagued by factionalism.

The BJP’s seniormost legislator, Chaman Lal Gupta, who has been a minister of state at the centre in the past, is estranged from the party high command.

While six suspended legislators have now been taken back, Gupta, who was the legislature party leader, was removed from the party’s basic membership.

The BJP Sunday revoked the suspension of Jagdish Raj Sapolia, who was suspended from the party along with five other legislators – Bharat Bushan, Garu Ram, Durga Dass, Lal Chand and Baldev Raj Sharma.

Another BJP leader, Nirmal Singh, who reportedly has a good support base especially among the educated Hindu community in the Jammu region, is also said to be cross with the party high command.

Nirmal Singh, according to sources, wanted to be fielded for the Lok Sabha election from the Jammu constituency. The BJP, instead, chose Jugul Kishore, the legislator from Nagrota.

The assembly election is likely to be held in October-November.

“We would be going into the assembly elections in a big way. Our thrust this time would also be on the Valley and the Ladakh region,” said BJP spokesperson Sheikh Khalid. Of the 87 seats, 46 are in the Kashmir Valley, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh.

The BJP is aiming for five assembly seats from the Valley, dubbed “five lotuses” in party parlance.

Party sources told IANS that at least two senior leaders would be spearheading the poll campaign.

“The magic of Narendra Modi will also be used by the party to garner votes,” the sources said.

However, it is to be seen whether the BJP is able to improve its political fortunes in the state, given the fact that its leadership is faction-ridden.