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BJP fields 32 Muslims for Jammu & Kashmir assembly polls
Monday November 17, 2014 5:09 PM, Agencies

In an attempt to shrug off the "Hindu party" tag, the Bhartya Janta Party (BJP) has fielded nearly 40 per cent Muslim candidates in Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls under its ambitious "Mission 44 plus" to wrest power in the state.

BJP is contesting more than 70 Assembly seats out of 87 and has fielded 32 Muslim candidates.

While the saffron party has fielded 25 Muslims in Kashmir Valley, six BJP candidates from the community are in the fray in Jammu region and one in Ladakh.

BJP has also fielded four Kashmiri Pandit candidates and a Sikh leader in assembly constituencies in Kashmir Valley and three Buddhists from Ladakh region as a strategic move.

BJP hopes to improve on its success in the Parliamentary elections in May when it won three out of six seats in the state. The rest three went to PDP while NC-Congress coalition was wiped out.

BJP is trying to focus more on poll plank of peace and development to reach out to people in the only Muslim-majority state of India rather than controversial issue like the demand for abrogation of Article 370 of Constitution which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

It has put the issue of Article 370 virtually out of the poll frame, saying it would do only what the people of the state want.

In 2008 Assembly elections, BJP had fielded 24 Muslim candidates and seven Kashmiri Pandits out of a total 60 candidates in Jammu and Kashmir and bagged 11 seats.

In 2002 Assembly elections, BJP gave tickets to 17 Muslims candidates out of 58 seats it contested and won one seat.

In a change of strategy, BJP has fielded Muslims candidates in Rajouri and Poonch instead of Hindu candidates and has given tickets to six Muslims in Jammu region.

BJP is also thinking of roping in Independents if it falls short of the magic figure of 44.

Jammu and Kashmir will go to polls in five phases from November 25.



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