5th Phase Of Jammu And Kashmir Polls Important For BJP

17 December 2014
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: The fifth and final phase of the Assembly elections for 20 seats of the Jammu province assumes importance for the BJP's poll dreams. The20 seats, spread over the three districts of Jammu province - Rajouri, Kathua and Jammu, will go to polls on Saturday. According to poll observers, the saffron party's performance in the fifth phase will decide whether it will form the government in the state or continue being the opposition. The party hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma will not only help it sail through the last phase, but also put the party in a strong position to form the next government. The Prime Minister visited Jammu on Tuesday and addressed election rallies. A large number of people attended Modi's rally. In the first four phases of the polls, the BJP may not have secured many seats as the influence of the party in the Muslim-dominated Valley is not much. The party is new in the Kashmir region and has no strong base there. However, the party is making inroads in the Valley. So far, elections have been held for 67 seats, including all 46 seats of the Valley, and 4 from Leh and Ladakh region. For assuming power in the 87-seat State Assembly, the BJP is working on 'Mission 44+'. 'For its mission 44+ in J&K, it is must for the BJP to win most of the seats from the Jammu region,' political observers said. They said if the BJP failed to do well in the final phase, then the party's chances of forming the next government would decline considerably. In J&K, the BJP tried to rope in a number of Muslim faces like Farooq Khan, Hina Bhat, Khalid Jehangir, Neelam Gash, and Darakshan Andrabi. Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley during his visit to the state had appealed to the people to give the BJP 'five lotuses' from the Valley. 'BJP's permutations and combinations will change drastically if they are able to make maximum out of the fifth phase of polls,' said Adil Masood Wani, a scholar. In the Parliamentary polls held earlier this year, the BJP won both seats (Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda) from the Jammu region. However, all the three seats in Kashmir region had gone to the Peoples' Democratic Party. The BJP now has all eyes on the fifth phase of the polls as the party has been raising the issue of 'discrimination' against the Jammu region. Of the 20 seats going to polls, the BJP represented 11 in the outgoing Assembly. 'We are not only sure of retaining all 11 seats, but also hopeful of winning some more seats. We are hopeful of winning at least 15 to 18 seats out of the 20 seats going to polls on Saturday,' said a senior State BJP leader.