India, April 6: The BJP has reconfigured its strategy for J&K by shifting its focus to Shia Muslim voters in a bid to make up for the party’s abysmal presence in the Valley. The party has announced reservations for Shia Muslims, demarcating constituencies, allowing Muharram processions, and the creation of a Shia Waqf board, along with a separate Haj Quota, particularly in Kashmir.
There are nearly 15 lakh Shias in the state, constituting 14% of the population. By tapping this vote base, the BJP aims to open its account in the state as it has never won even a single seat in the assembly or parliamentary elections in the Valley.
The Shias are primarily concentrated in the Budgam area of central Kashmir. Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference (NC), and several other outfits have attempted to make inroads in the Valley by tapping Shia votes.
BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav on Tuesday held a meeting with the state leadership to consolidate the party’s strategy. “We are of the opinion that Shia Muslims should be given reservation, just like the Pahari community. They have been neglected and so, the community will be our focus in this election,” Engineer Aijaz Hussain, the national vice president of BJP’s youth wing, told News18. He is also in charge of party’s youth affairs in West Bengal.
Accusing the previous governments of attempting to disperse the Shia population over different constituencies in order to divide votes, Hussain said the party will work for the demarcation of constituencies on the basis of the community’s population.
“In north Kashmir’s Pattan area, we will propose a constituency that will have a majority Shia population,” he added.
The BJP’ state leadership said that the ban on Muharram processions should be revoked in Kashmir. Besides, it has also promised Shia voters that a separate Waqf board will be created and that reservation will be allocated in the Haj quota.
Despite being the “backbone of democracy” in Kashmir, Shias have been neglected and used by other political parties for political gains, claimed Hussain. “If the BJP uplifts them, they are sure to reciprocate with votes,” he added. (Agencies)