Srinagar: Hina Bhat, a candidate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP in Kashmir, today said she did not regret the controversial statements that she made during her campaign, as votes were counted on Tuesday for state polls.
Ms Bhatt, 37, is contesting from the high profile Amira Kadal constituency, where Syed Salahuddin, the head of the terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, was a candidate in 1987.
"I am confident that the lotus (BJP's symbol) will bloom in Kashmir," she told NDTV today. "The BJP has won the hearts of people. We will form the government," she added, describing the higher than average voting in the constituency as a sign of change.
Analysts say if the BJP wins in the Valley, it will mark a tectonic shift in Jammu and Kashmir politics.
Ms Bhat's father Mohammad Shafi Bhat represented the Amira Kadal constituency in 1996 and was MP from the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency as a National Conference candidate.
In November, Ms Bhat said she would be the "first to pick up a gun" if Article 370 of the Constitution, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, were to be scrapped. Her party, the BJP, has always called for abrogation of the article but critics say it has softened its stance because of political expediency.
"I don't regret my statement. I don't regret anything that I said," Ms Bhat said on her gun comments.
Ms Bhat controversially slapped a polling officer during voting, alleging massive rigging. She provoked criticism when she warned that the "rigged polling will give birth to another Salahuddin".
Syed Salahuddin - born Mohammed Yusuf Shah - was the candidate of the Muslim United Front for Amira Kadal in the 1987 elections. Separatist leader Yasin Malik was his polling agent.
Salahuddin lost the election to a National Conference candidate Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah amid allegations of rigging. Salahuddin was said to have been jailed following his vociferous protests and after his release, he joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and went on to become one of the most wanted militants in Kashmir.