|From insignificance to political centre stage, BJP registers phenomenal growth in J&K|
Early Times Report
JAMMU, Nov 17: The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) which was once a minuscule force in J&K's electoral arena has grown leaps and bounds over the years and now it has reached a stage where it is eyeing the seat of power either on its own or with a possible tie up with some political dispensation.
With its expansion, the BJP has now set a target of 'Mission 44+' in the upcoming Assembly polls for which the party is also trying to present itself in an all new packaging as it is not even averse to fielding Muslim candidates in Jammu region where Hindus are in majority among whom the saffron party has a consistent edge in comparison to other parties in the last three decades.From a nil in 1983 to 11 seats in the last Assembly while clinching three Lok Sabha seats for the first time in J&K in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has grown from strength to strength.
The BJP, which was formed in 1980, began its electoral journey in J&K with a blank in its first ever appearance in Assembly elections in 1983 when the strength of State Assembly was 76, however, the party made small inroads in the next Assembly polls of 1987 wherein it managed to open its account for the first time and won two Assembly seats out of total 76 seats.
The party contested 27 seats in 1983 and accumulated 9.07 percent of total votes cast whereas in 1987 it fought on 29 Assembly constituencies and got a share of 5.1 percent of votes.
While Prof Chaman Lal Gupta won from Jammu East Assembly seat by defeating Congress candidate Ved Prakash with a margin of 3233 votes, the other BJP winner was Thakur Baldev Singh from Hiranagar who trounced Congress nominee Ram Dass Dogra by 2508 votes.
In 1996, when the elections were held after a gap of nine years, the BJP contested on 53 seats and romped home on as many as eight Assembly seats with a rise in vote percentage to 12.13.
The party candidates who won including Bali Bhagat from Ramban, Shiv Charan Gupta Udhampur, Prithvi Chand-Chenani, Prem Lal-Hiranagar, Chuni Lal-Suchetgarh, Choudhary Piara Singh-Gandhi Nagar, Vaid Vaishno Dutt-Jammu East and Hans Raj- Jammu West.
However, in 2002 Assembly polls despite contesting from 58 seats, the BJP managed to won just a single seat of Nagrota where its candidate Jugal Kishore Sharma who defeated National Conference nominee Ajatshatru Singh in a keenly contested poll battle.
The BJP's percentage of total votes polled also fell drastically in this election as it bagged only 8.57 percent of votes.
In 2008 Assembly polls, the party riding on Amarnath Land agitation wave, for the first time achieved a tally in double figure as it won eleven seats and amassed 12.45 percent of votes. The party candidates from Basohli-Jagdish Sapolia, Bani-Master Lal Chand, Hiranagar-Durga Dass, Jammu West-Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, Jammu East-Ashok Khajuria, Raipur Domana- Bharat Bhushan, Marh- Sukhnandan Choudhary, RS Pura- Gharu Ram Bhagat, Suchetgarh-Sham Choudhary, Reasi-Baldev Raj Sharma and Nagrota-Jugal Kishore Sharma emerged victorious.