BJP to redevise strategy for getting pahari votes in Assembly Polls 

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As the Election Commission of India has kicked start the process to conduct the maiden Assembly in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the central leadership of BJP has asked the local unit to identify potential Pahari candidates for constituencies of twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri.

Highly placed sources said that apart from the Hindu majority Assembly segment of Jammu province, BJP leadership has also shifted focus on the seats dominated by Pahari-speaking especially in the Poonch and Rajouri districts. Although some political stalwarts have joined the BJP after the Union Government granted Scheduled Tribe status to the Pahari-speaking people, the party leadership is trying to identify some young faces to be fielded in Assembly segments in both districts. Sources said that the central leadership of the party is not happy with the result of the Lok Sabha elections because Paharis overwhelmingly supported the National Conference and PDP candidates on the Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary seat where the BJP had supported the Apni Party candidate Zafar Iqbal Manhas, who himself is a Pahari.

“The experiment of supporting other parties has failed in the Lok Sabha elections because Pahari-speaking Muslims are ready to support BJP after getting the Scheduled Tribe status but they have not supported Apni Party candidate”, a source said, adding, “This time BJP will field young Pahari candidates in Poonch and Rajouri”. Sources said that the BJP high command has asked the local unit to reach out to the Pahari-speaking people to win some Muslim majority seats from Poonch and Rajouri districts where party supported Apni Party candidate performed very poorly in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections.

BJP’s central leadership is very much aware that without the support of Poonch and Rajouri, it is difficult rather impossible for the party to emerge as the single largest party in the coming Assembly elections. In the just concluded Parliamentary elections, BJP took the lead in 29 assembly segments out of the total 90. Failure of the party to maintain its dominance in its strongholds like Jammu South-RS Pura, Suchetgarh, Bahu, and Nowshera assembly segment is a matter of concern for the BJP leadership. “What to say of making inroads in Poonch and Rajouri districts after granting ST status to Paharies, BJP even failed to retain its vote bank in its citadels in different areas”, a source in the party said.

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