BJP Struggles to Open Account in Kashmir Valley
Polling in Kashmir
NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party, despite the impassioned plea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Kashmiri’s to vote for his party, is not expected to penetrate the Valley substantially, despite initial intelligence assessments that it could pick up three to four seats in the Valley.
The increased percentage of voting in defiance of the boycott calls has placed the BJP on the edge in the Kashmir Valley. Tral that was being targeted by the BJP in this phase seems to have also slipped out of its hands as the voting reported from here has been brisk, after a slow start on Tuesday morning. Sopore does not seem to be interested in voting, with the negligible to low turnout expected to impact adversely on all political parties, including the BJP. In that given its failure to organise the scattered Kashmiri migrant vote in this constituency, the BJP is not likely to gain ground as was initially expected.
In fact, judging from local reports, Habakadal seems to be the only Assembly seat left where the BJP has a chance according to its own propaganda. Political opinion in Srinagar seems to be divided on this, with most spoken to insisting that it will be difficult for the BJP to open an account in these polls. Habakadal goes to the polls in the next phase, and the results will depend on the percentage of voting. As one Congress leader said, “voting percentage over 25 per cent will go against the BJP.”
The youth that have emerged as a major factor in these elections by and large appear to have remained indifferent to PM Modi’s promise of development. A young businessman told The Citizen, “well he said nothing new really, we have heard all this before.” There were several young people who were upset that the Prime Minister did not refer to the attack on the Kashmiri students in Haryana. A student from Baramulla asked, “how could he have remained silent on this attack, it happened just before he came to Srinagar.”
The Kashmiri students were studying at the Global Research Institute for Management and Technology in Yamna Nagar, Haryana and were thrashed by locals over a cricket match. This was similar to the Meerut incident, according to initial reports. The boys were reportedly attacked with iron rod and at least one is said to be critical. Local villagers reportedly participated in the attack.
The students said there was a history to the attack as they were constantly harassed and threatened by others with the college authorities refusing to intervene. About 90 Kashmiri students are in the college and many told reporters in Srinagar that they always felt insecure and under threat. They are called “terrorists” and harassed.
The trauma undergone by the students has become secondary to the ongoing elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Many journalists spoken to in the state also had little idea about further developments in this case, admitting that it had been overtaken by PM Modi’s visit and now the elections.