SRINAGAR : In order to achieve its mission 44+ in the upcoming J&K Assembly elections, scheduled to be held later this year, the BJP is looking for alliance partners in Kashmir and have held talks with separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone.
The elections to the 87-member Assembly will be held in October-November and the BJP is working hard to achieve its mission.
“We are holding talks with like-minded politicians and parties in Kashmir to achieve our mission of 44+ seats in Assembly elections,” Jammu and Kashmir BJP General Secretary, Ashok Koul, told Express.
He said the party’s national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member J P Nadda had a meeting with Lone at his residence on Thursday.
Lone’s People’s Conference has a strong base in at least five Assembly seats in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Sajjad’s brother Bilal Gani is executive member of moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. His father Abdul Gani Lone was killed by unidentified gunmen on May 21, 2002 during a rally in the downtown area here.
Koul said it took them six months to prepare the ground for meeting between party’s national general secretary and Lone.
“Besides, the party is also in talks with some other parties and politicians in the Valley and we are hopeful of clinching an alliance deal with them,” he said without identifying the parties and political leaders with whom the BJP is holding talking.
The BJP has a strong base in Jammu and it had won both the Lok Sabha seats from the province. The party also won the parliamentary seat from Ladakh.
Koul said the party is looking for alliance partners only in Kashmir, where people are “fedup with traditional parties: the National Conference and the PDP, and want alternatives”.
“We will win 25-30 seats in Jammu, 2-3 seats in Ladakh and rest in the Valley, where we would forge an alliance with smaller parties,” he said.
The state BJP leader said the mindset among Kashmir’s politicians towards the BJP is changing and “they are ready to work with the party”.
“After Eid, a lot of new faces will join the party and we will also announce alliance with smaller parties in Kashmir,” said another J&K BJP leader Fayaz Ahmad Bhat. He said the BJP is no more an untouchable in the Valley and people are showing keen interest in the party’s policies.
The BJP is trying to woo Muslim leaders with strong credentials to make inroads into Kashmir politics.
Heena Bhat, daughter of former MP and senior politician Muhammad Shafi Bhat joined the party last week. Earlier, former IGP Farooq Khan had joined the BJP during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally at Jammu in March.