The BJP sees green shoots for itself in the Kashmir Valley and the prospects of elections to the Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, following the recent visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah there, especially his well-attended public rally in Baramulla.
“It’s been 35 years since any Cabinet Minister in the Union government has held a public rally in Baramulla [a district in north Kashmir and often seen as the hotbed of terrorist activity] and for us it is emblematic of the changing situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a senior BJP leader.
Mr. Shah has also committed to positively considering granting Scheduled Tribe status to Paharis. The opening of cinema halls and other measures are also being seen as a positive sign with regard to everyday life of people. In fact, Mr. Shah is said to have spoken to members of the Dhar family in Srinagar, proprietors of the newly opened multiplex in the city, on whether the cinemas were attracting viewers especially women and children.
The process of the finalisation of electoral rolls may take another month or so, according to government sources, and may in fact set rolling the process of holding Assembly poll. Sources say that nearly 4.5 lakh voters outside the Union Territory (Kashmiri Pandits and others) could be added to the electoral rolls as could over one lakh residents who had come over from West Pakistan during Partition.
The BJP currently has no plans to tie up with any other party in the run-up to the polls but is carefully watching the progress of new outfits such as the Democratic Azad Party formed by former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. “As of now, we will be fighting on our own strengths and do not anticipate any pre-poll tie-ups,” said a senior source in the BJP. There is an anticipation that polls may be held by next year, depending on when the Election Commission feels its preparations are adequate.