The Candidate Who Does Not Need to Spend on Publicity
SRINAGAR: Except BJP’s Hina Bhat, the candidates contesting the state elections this time are spending much to get their pictures, along with lofty promises, printed on the pages of the news dailies in Kashmir.
The election programs telecast these days by the national television channels are ‘partial’ with BJP’s female candidate Hina Shafi Bhat a regular participant. She speaks about her vision, her agenda and eulogizes Prime Minister Narendra Modi in every TV show. She says, off camera and with good reason, that she does not need any poll advertisements to lure voters. Hers already a known face.
A few months ago no one knew who Hina Bhat was in Jammu and Kashmir. On December 8, when the Prime Minister addressed his well publicised poll rally in Srinagar, Bhat was standing right beside him waving her hand at the crowd just like him.
By contesting the elections as the BJP candidate Bhat has become a well known figure in the state. Even as the BJP was seeking a debate over the abrogation of Article 370 she hit the headlines with her, ‘I will pick up gun, if 370 is scrapped’.
"I am going to say goodbye to BJP if the party abrogates Article 370 in Kashmir," said Bhat who is BJP's Amira Kadal Constituency candidate.” She also added for good measure that she would resort to “violence” if steps to revoke the Article were taken by New Delhi.
"I will also pick up the gun against the people whosoever think of going for its abrogation," she added.
Television channels gave great prominence to these quotes with Bhat a celebrity of sorts. The other political parties took up the refrain with even chief minister Omar Abdullah quoting her to debunk the BJP position.Whenever the BJP is asked to clarify its position on the state’s unique status, reporters substantiate their questions with the statement of Hina Bhat. As the TV crews along with their broadcast vans arrived in valley to cover the state elections, Bhat turns out to be the first choice for TV journalists. Almost in every show on Kashmir, she is a guest. She terms National Conference (NC) led government as a “den of dacoits” and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, as a “party of brokers”. She keeps the rhetoric going that joining BJP was a ‘Jihad for her’.
She claims that she has joined politics to clean the system. “I am a Kashmiri first, then a Muslim first and then a BJP leader. Working in this system, giving people their share of benefits, to become their voice here, and in New Delhi, that is jihad for me.”
She claims to have known what the state has been going through for the past three decades. "The corruption has gone up. There is no governance, no development and minimal prosperity. Innocent people are being killed for no sin or crime of theirs."
Spending money on 15 centimeters long poll posters and advertisements is not needed now. Rheotric has served Hina's purpose.