BJP tries to regain voter support; Shah to visit Jammu Sat.
New Delhi: The BJP’s move to end its so-called “unnatural” alliance with the PDP in J&K was mainly to restore the “strong leader” image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to consolidate its votebank in Jammu and Ladakh regions.
The decision to snap ties with the PDP was taken during the RSS-BJP core group meeting on Saturday at Prime Minister Modi’s residence. With the general election fast approaching and the situation in the Valley showing no signs of improvement, the BJP had “no alternative” but to withdraw support, a senior party leader said. It was felt with PDP chief and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti allegedly pursuing her soft separatist narrative, the BJP was rapidly losing its support base in Jammu and Ladakh and among hardcore Hindutva elements.
Ms Mufti’s approach towards the separatists, Pakistan and insurgent elements in the Valley was in direct conflict with the nationalist policy pursued by the BJP-led NDA.
To send a positive signal to its core Jammu constituency, BJP president Amit Shah is expected to visit the region on June 23 to commemorate the death anniversary of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who had strongly opposed granting a separate status to J&K.
Also, with the Amarnath Yatra due to start by the end of the month, the Centre is in no mood to take any chances as an attack on it could shatter the BJP’s core votebank. With the PDP out of the way, the Centre “now gets a free hand to provide adequate security cover”, a senior party leader said.
Saffron strategists feel with governor’s rule in the state, the BJP will be in a “better position” to pursue its policy to come down hard on separatists and terrorism in the region. The unilateral Ramzan ceasefire ordered by the Cetnre, reportedly under pressure from the PDP, appears to have boomeranged as not only did terrorist activities continue unabated, but fighting between India and Pakistan in Kashmir escalated during Ramzan. It is also learnt that the BJP cadre was not happy with the truce decision, which they felt was forced by the PDP as it wanted to please its own core vote base in the Valley.
Also, Prime Minister Modi’s move to provide a “healing touch” in the Valley by launching various projects seems to have come to nought after the increasing militant activities and violence in the state, the BJP leaders felt.
It was noted that despite many Central projects launched in the state, including the Tapi riverfront, construction of an ambitious ring road, the Zozila tunnel and power projects, reports of the deteriorating law and order situation, including stone-pelting incidents, hogged the limelight.
While the BJP does not expect to win any Lok Sabha seats in the Valley, its leaders feel the decision to pull out support will help the party regain voters’ confidence in Jammu and Ladakh. There are six Lok Sabha seats in the state — two in Jammu, three in Kashmir and one in Ladakh.
Of these, the BJP has two MPs from Jammu and one from Ladakh, while the PDP had won all three seats in the Kashmir Valley.