NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been unable to find a “suitable” candidate for the Assembly elections from Sopore in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district which is Hurriyat leader Ali Shah Geelani’s bastion.

The BJP that was earlier claiming this is to be a ‘winnable’ seat finds itself an “untouchable” in Sopore with its search for a candidate proving futile.

"The decision not to field any candidate from Sopore was taken by the high command as they could not find a “winning candidate” BJP spokesperson Khalid Jehangir told reporters in Srinagar.

Sopore that has been intensely loyal to Geelani was expected to completely boycott the elections as per his directives, leading the local BJP to claim possible victory from here on the basis of a consolidated migrant Pandit vote. There are over 2000 Pandit votes in this constituency that, if consolidated, could have helped the BJP in the face of the usually low to negligible voting in this constituency.

Confirming the details, Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Farooq Ahmad Lone said that no BJP candidate has filed his nomination from Sopore.

“Nomination of seven independents were rejected out of 23 and there are 16 candidates in the fray from Sopore now but there is no candidate from the BJP ,” he said.

Meanwhile The Citizen has learnt that BJP approached many candidates in this North Kashmir assembly segment but were rejected by all, according to sources.

However Ramesh Arora state vice-president of BJP and in charge of Kashmir Valley said that they have decided not to field any candidate in certain constituencies “as they may enter into a post poll alliance with some parties.”

Sopore constituency usually witnesses a poll boycott and the turnover has remained between 10 to 20 percent in the last elections. However the last Lok Sabha elections witnessed the lowest ever turnout of just 5% in Sopore.

With BJP out of the contest, the fight will be between National Conference's Muhammad Ashraf Ganaie, Nazir Ahmad Naiko of the People’s Democratic Party and Abdul Rashid Dar of the Congress party.

Pertinently Ganaie, a sitting MLA from the area, had urged Hurriyat’s Geelani to reconsider his poll boycott call, arguing that it would benefit the BJP. Geelani told The Citizen in an interview that there was no question of reviewing the boycott call.