Article 370 Major Obstacle in BJP'S Forward March in Kashmir Valley
Article 370 and the BJP in J&K
NEW DELHI: With barely a week left for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to kick off the election campaign in Jammu and Kashmir, Article 370 is turning out as the biggest hurdle for the BJP to attain its Mission 44+.
Several BJP poll candidates from Kashmir have opposed the party’s stand on the sensitive issue , including its main woman candidate from Amira Kadal constituency Hina Bhat. She has said that she will be the first to pick up a gun if Article 370 was abrogated.
“If the Article is touched, it will force Kashmiris to pick up guns again. And you know I am a Kashmiri too,” she had reportedly said. Of course Kashmiri’s are ridiculing the statement on the social media, and criticising her ‘ignorance.’
The BJP, which is trying to make inroads in Muslim majority Kashmir has been trying not to highlight its stated position against Article 370 but its inclusion in the election manifesto has raised serious questions in Kashmir Valley.
“Article 370 will be the deciding factor for the assembly elections, as Kashmiris have always opposed BJP on this and if BJP goes ahead with Article 370 row, then they will have to face the music” said a BJP leader from South Kashmir wishing not to be named.
Jammu And Kashmir State is heading for a five phase election, beginning November 25.
“It is up to Party High command to decide, but yes we want Article 370 to be debated and let people decide on it” said Sofi Yousuf BJP Candidate for Pahalgam Constituency of South Kashmir.
Yousuf while lambasting NC and PDP said that they both are making an issue out of nothing and did not care about the Kashmiri youth and the high unemployment and resulting frustration.
Omar Abdullah and Mufti Sayeed have a record of creating political tensions in Kashmir and this time they are playing the Article 370 card to fool Kashmiris,” Yousuf added.
Meanwhile BJP candidate from Homeshalibugh in Anantnag district Ghulam Nabi Dar had also reportedly said he would allow no one to “play around” with the Article.
The BJP has stood against Article 370, and while it has support for this from sections of the electorate in Jammu it is facing stiff opposition from within the Valley.
“Whatever be the reason, the BJP is in a fix because of the conflicting impact on the Kashmir and Jammu divisions,” political analyst Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain said.
However, Despite the strong resentment from within the party the BJP is going to keep this as an important part of manifesto.
“This has been an important agenda of our manifesto and will remain so. We want to discuss whether this article has benefited the state or just a few families only,” party’s J&K spokesman Khalid Jehangir told the media in Srinagar.
Meanwhile Minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh also said the BJP’s stand on Article 370 was “very clear”.
“All issues, including Article 370, which have been part of the BJP manifesto all these years, will be part of the agenda in the state,” he told reporters in Jammu earlier this week.
Minister of state for external affairs and former Army chief VK Singh, however, took a conflicting stand, in an attempt to woo voters in Kashmir. “BJP never said Article 370 is to be removed or amended,” he said in Srinagar on Saturday.
Meanwhile The Citizen has learnt that the Article 370 controversy is is also coming in the way of the larger alliance that the BJP was trying to stitch up with individuals and small parties in the Kashmir Valley.
“We can’t go with BJP that hurts the greater sentiments of Kashmiris, I told them to drop Article 370 from their poll manifesto, but they refused; so our arrangements didn’t work” said Awami Itihad Chief Engineer Rashid.