Q&A: The first Kashmiri Muslim woman to run for the B.J.P.

Srinagar – On a rainy afternoon this month, Hina Bhat was planning her election campaign and talking to visitors who had made their way across the muddy lane which led up to her house in the neighbourhood of Raj Bagh in Srinagar.

Bhat, 35, is the first Kashmiri Muslim woman to run as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in state elections for Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which kick off on November 25. The BJP, the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is making an audacious bid for power in the Muslim-majority state, which has been wracked by a movement for independence for the past two decades.

The BJP has vowed to win over 44 seats out of 87 in the state assembly. Bhat, a dental surgeon, will contest from the Amirakadal constituency in Srinagar, one of the worst hit areas in the September floods. It is also where her father, Muhammad Shafi Bhat, has won several elections for the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC) since the 1990s. She is now seeking to defeat her father’s old party.

In a conversation with Al Jazeera’s Betwa Sharma, Bhat talked about her controversial decision to stand for a party linked to a Hindutva, advocating for Hindu nationalism, ideology and opposing her father’s party, her views on Kashmir’s independence, running for elections in the aftermath of the floods and BJP’s plans for the state.

Al Jazeera: Why did you decide to run for the Bharatiya Janata Party from Kashmir? read it at Al Jazeera.

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