BJP captures Jammu, keeps “all options


The BJP, which recorded its best ever performance in Jammu and Kashmir yet fell short of its “Mission 44” by 19 seats, is keeping “all options” open ongovernment formation in a hung assembly. The BJP is likely to first strive to explore the possibility of taking the lead in government formation as with the support of People’s Conference’s two seats and an independent, the BJP could equal the tally of the PDP.

Having come the closest to power ever in the state, the BJP, which had won just 11 seats in the last assembly election, does not want to let go of the opportunity, party sources said.

This could mean that, if necessary, it would not be averse to exploring a tie-up with the PDP, which has emerged the single largest party, or the National Conference. However, any support to the PDP, which the BJP once saw as being soft on secessionist forces, would not be unconditional, sources said.

The BJP has won its 25 seats from the Hindu-dominated Jammu region but failed to open its account in the Muslim-dominated Valley, from where the PDP won 28 seats. However, the BJP has managed to capture seven of the 15 seats in Jammu’s Muslim-dominated Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley.

“All options are open. The option of forming a BJP government is open. The option of supporting somebody is also open. The option of participating in a government is also open. All three options are open,” BJP chief Amit Shah said at a press conference.

However, he refused to divulge which party – PDP or NC – the BJP would prefer to align with. Asked about the party’s “Mission 44” failing, he said “wait for some time. Something good will happen.”

Shah said the BJP was now a relevant political force in the state and had the maximum vote percentage of 23.4, which was higher than that of the PDP. He said the results in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, where the BJP has got majority in a state where no party has ever got a clear verdict, was the endorsement of prime minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and his government’s performance in the past six months.

Party leaders claimed that the BJP would be intrinsic to any government in the state. With the support of two seats of former separatist Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference and one independent from Udhampur, the BJP feels it has a chance of having a claim to its chief minister in the state. The People’s Conference won Handwara and Kupwara.

The BJP, which made development its prime agenda, had targeted the Abdullah and Mufti families in the run-up to elections, while the NC and PDP had campaigned to “keep the BJP out”. In his rallies, prime minister Narendra Modi focused on the development agenda.

In Jammu, Modi was a draw resulting in the party making big gains. In the Valley, the BJP was banking on the votes of the migrant Pundits, particularly in Habba Kadal. But, only around a third of them could vote.

“Our responsibility is to fulfil our promise of providing a stable government. We will look at all options to ensure that,” said BJP leader Ram Madhav. As for the BJP not being able to win a single seat in the valley or in Ladakh, he said the party will introspect on this.

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