NEW DELHI (TIP): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to drop two contentious issues, abrogation of Article 370 and the repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), from its manifesto for the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly polls. Instead, the saffron party will fight the polls on development plank, brand Modi and to free the state from the dynastic rule of the Abdullahs and the Muftis.
The BJP leaders said they have managed to rope in an important politician who is known nationally and will join the party on Sunday. Though sources refused to divulge the name, it is being speculated that separatist leader Sajjad Lone could be one among them. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, the latest leader to join the party from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, met Lone in Srinagar recently. The party’s move to get on board an important leader stems from its strategy to do well in Muslim dominated Kashmir which has the maximum number of seats out of the 87 constituencies in the state.
Jammu region has 37 seats, Ladakh four and the rest are in Kashmir. While the party feels it would do well in Hindu dominated Jammu and Ladakh, reflected in good show in the Lok Sabha polls, Kashmir is a real worry. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be benefiting the most out of the anti-incumbency mood against the National Conference (NC) in the Valley. The state BJP unit has prepared the manifesto which would be vetted by the central leadership in the next couple of days before its release around November 15.
“We will go to the people in the name of development and getting the state rid of these two families. Their family raj stands for corruption and deprivation,” said party state in-charge Ram Madhav. Senior party sources said the manifesto is likely to mirror the BJP’s 2014 Parliamentary poll document. On J&K, the national manifesto, too, had reiterated its stand on the abrogation of Article 370 after speaking to stakeholders and omitted AFSPA.
It had promised to pursue an agenda of equal and rapid development in all the three regions of the state–Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh–address grievance of refugess from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and ensure the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. Sources said: “Article 370 is a national issue for us. State government has nothing to do with it and any decision on the issue will vest with the Union government.” The party leaders claimed that sentiment in the state is against the Omar Abdullah government given its failure to handle the worst ever floods that had hit the Valley.