NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party is leaving no Kashmiri carpet unturned to mop up the 44+ seats it seeks in Jammu and Kashmir. And the rather affable personality of RSS leader Ram Madhav---who smiles his way through every hurdle---is being used to woo over specific leaders in the Valley in the hope that one of them at least will be able to open the door for the party in this hitherto padlocked terrain.

The local media is already carrying reports that the BJP is looking for a “Muslim Chief Minister.” Many of the individual leaders who have been approached are also in dire need of funds to contest the Assembly elections in the state.

The RSS and BJP have been working with quiet determination in the state, and while in their assessment Jammu and Ladakh are fairly secure, the Valley poses a major problem in their target of reaching a majority in the state Assembly. Feelers had been sent out to the Peoples Democratic Party initially, but there has been a rift of sorts, particularly as the PDP has realised that the BJP itself has ambitions in the Valley and is not particularly keen to leave this part of the state under its control.

The rift has widened after Madhav’ visit to the Valley and his meetings with several single leader parties. An indication of this is a recent statement by PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti who has lashed out at the BJP maintaining that it had won three Lok Sabha seats in the state because of communal polarisation, and that “now it is planning to create sectarian division within the Muslim community.”

“The state is facing a new political scenario with the BJP emerging in some areas as a major force and aiming to increase its presence in the Legislative Assembly through a divisive agenda based on communal polarisation and sectarian differences,” Mehbooba Mufti has been quoted in the local newspapers as saying.

She further said the ensuing Assembly polls in the state would be a direct contest between the PDP and the BJP in yet another signal that her party’s ambitions had grown, and it was not prepared to concede ground to the party it now perceives as its biggest rival. “The National Conference and the Congress have collapsed as political organisations and the contest now is directly between the PDP and the BJP,” she said.

The peeve is largely because of the new strategy adopted by the RSS and the BJP, of singling individual leaders and bringing them over into a post poll alliance. One of the first to have been approached was Peoples Conference leader Sajad Lone who is now in regular touch with the BJP, and in all likelihood will be with the party if required after the elections. Madhav has met him again. Others who he has had talks with include Democratic party Nationalistic (DPN) chief Ghulam Hassan Mir, former minister and People Democratic Front leader Hakim Yasin, as well as independent legislators like Engineer Rashid, Ghulam Hassan Mir, Hakim Yaseen and others.

Madhav has visited the Valley at least twice. Several of those contesting the elections now are short of money and it is an area where at least two candidates have told The Citizen they would not mind “help”. The Kashmiri leaders are not averse to joining forces with the BJP in the state, and have gone on record in the local newspapers to say this maintaining that the possibility of a post poll alliance was very much on the cards.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been visiting the state as well, during and after the floods. As sources in Delhi said, “a BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir would be the realisation of a major goal for the party.”