In his first visit to J&K after his party formed a coalition government with the PDP in 2015, BJP chief Amit Shah Saturday asked his party’s ministers in the state to visit the Kashmir Valley, meet the “common masses” and expand the party’s base. Shah’s call came on a day when J&K Governor N N Vohra reached Delhi to apprise the Centre of the situation in the Valley amid protests following the violence during the Lok Sabha bypoll in Budgam this month. Vohra is expected to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday.
In Jammu, BJP’s Nowshera MLA Ravinder Raina said that Shah “directed party ministers not to remain confined to their assembly constituencies, but visit the remote areas of Kashmir, meet the common masses there and address to the problems facing them’’. ”He has assigned duties to party ministers in this regard,’’ said Raina, citing Shah’s address to party leaders and workers at the Convention Centre.
Shah’s trip also comes against the background of growing differences within the ruling coalition over the recent defeat of a PDP candidate for a seat in the state legislative council. However, BJP leaders in Jammu described their party chief’s two-day visit as the beginning of his nationwide tour spanning three months. Party leaders said that during Saturday’s meeting, Shah responded to concerns expressed by some participants over the situation in the Valley by saying that the priority of both central and state governments is to restore peace and normalcy. “We have the capacity to tackle it and we will tackle it,’’ Raina quoted Shah as saying.
According to Raina, Shah stressed that Kashmir is an integral part of India and the people of the Valley are Indian nationals. “We (BJP) are with them as they are our own people. Except for a few spoiling the situation at gunpoint, a majority of the people there want peace and normalcy… they all are Indians and protecting their lives and dignity is the responsibility of our governments at the Centre and in the state. Restoring law and order is our joint responsibility and we will fulfill it,’’ Raina quoted Shah as saying.
Addressing concerns over suggestions of talks with separatists, Shah told the gathering that “for BJP, the nation always comes first’’, said Raina. The party president also said that the party’s base needed to be broadened and people apprised of the central government’s welfare schemes so that they can take advantage of it. BJP state president Sat Sharma said Shah’s visit “will help him get firsthand knowledge of the party’s activities in the state”. “It also assumes significance keeping in view the Amarnath Yatra and the tourist season in the state,” he said.
Minister of State for Tourism Priya Sethi said Shah will also hold meetings with “RSS pracharaks and members of the civil society”. On Sunday, he will inaugurate a library dedicated to Nanaji Deshmukh at the party’s headquarters in Jammu, apart from holding discussions with BJP ministers and “prominent people of the state”. At the Convention Centre, Shah was accompanied by the BJP’s national vice president and in-charge of J&K, Avinash Rai Khanna; its national general secretaries Ram Madhav, Ram Lal and Dr Anil Jain; Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh; and, J&K Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh.