The political struggles of India's ruling BJP in Jammu and Kashmir look to be continuing with the party's Srinagar office still bearing the marks of the last grenade attack in 2017.
The BJP was boosted by an unprecedented victory in last year's local election and emboldened by a victory in the first ever block development council election in October, in which it garnered 81 seats out of 310.
Muhammad Iqbal from Chandan Pajan area released a video and stated that he has neither earned any money since he joined the party not had a sense of security.
“I am resigning from the position of sarpanch. I have not got any benefit from the party, not earned a single penny. I have small kids and family. I do not want to die. I am resigning,” he said.
On 6 August, a day after the anniversary of the abrogation of article 370, five BJP party workers tendered their resignations amid mounting fear of terrorist attack and the killing of elected representative Sajad Khanday in South Kashmir. It was the fourth killing of party workers since July.
Despite all of this, the BJP's party president remains upbeat ahead of future elections .
“Anti-national forces in Kashmir are frustrated as they have lost their sympathisers in Kashmir. The terrorists and separatists, as well as Pakistani elements, are trying to create an atmosphere of fear. Selective killings of BJP politicians are being carried out to instill panic and fear,” BJP President of Kashmir unit Ravinder Raina told Sputnik.
Hope Amid Chaos
Raina stated that the killings are the outcome of party’s popularity in the valley. He asserted that more and more people, including youngsters, women and “intellectual people” are joining the party from the remotest parts of Kashmir.
“Elements from Pakistan are afraid that BJP will get massive support in the valley. But this cannot demoralize the workers. Over 8000-9000 new people have joined BJP after the abrogation of Article 370. Many prominent figures have joined. We hope after assembly election we would be able to form a government with a majority,” Raina told Sputnik.
However, many in the valley admitted that the killing of senior party leader, Sheikh Wasim Bari, along with his father and brother in Kashmir on 8 July was major setback for the party. Bari and his relatives were assassinated as terrorists opened fire in their home in the first significant attack since 5 August.
He was a significant party member and face of the BJP, who was helping the party to grow its base in the region.
Break the Ice
The BJP will continue to contest the upcoming elections but it faces an uphill struggle given that the only time it had ruled in the area was in 2014 when it formed a government with the regional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Gowhar Geelani, a Kashmiri journalist, who has been arrested for his social media posts, says that the BJP would like to hasten the process towards elections but these cannot happen until there is some stability in Kashmir.
“Elections cannot be held in J&K unless there is stability on all fronts, clarity on the path ahead and how the regional parties like the National Conference, PDP, People's Conference, PM, AIP etc resist the 5 August decision. Two, the BJP would like to hasten the process of delimitation of assembly constituencies to enhance its chances in any future election, but as things stand any political process in the region seems far away,” Geelani told Sputnik.
Newly appointed Lt Governor (equivalent to chief) of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, a former cabinet minister, is seeking to implement the government's welfare schemes at the grassroots level:
“We need to establish a dialogue with the common people of Jammu and Kashmir.There should be peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir. The situation of uncertainty should end, terrorism should end."
“BJP-PDP alliance ended on the grounds of deteriorating conditions of Jammu and Kashmir. Out of many, one of the reasons was the law and order and militancy issue in the valley which increased in BJP’s rule. However, killings of politicians are not new, many of PDP, congress and regional party workers have been killed in the past,” said Mir.
The party is now planning to redraw the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies foe first time since 1995. It is expected to increase the number of seats for the Hindu-majority Jammu region and make the party stronger in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley. It is also seeking to allocate one-third of the 24 Assembly seats to Jammu.