Invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here today that it was his duty to fulfil his predecessor’s dream of “Insaaniyat (humanity), Kashmiriyat (Kashmir’s pluralist ethos) and Jamhooriyat (democracy),” as these were the “three” pillars that can put Kashmir on the path of development.
Speaking at his first rally in the Valley, Modi — avoiding any reference to Pakistan — said that he had come to “share the people’s grief and pain” and promised to reciprocate the love he had got from the people here “with interest.”
This rally, seen as a culmination of an unprecedented mobilization and Assembly poll campaign by the BJP and RSS, came after weeks of organisation. Party members worked overnight to bring people from across the valley and even from parts of Jammu. The city was draped in saffron and around 20 large hoardings of Modi lined the roads that led to the venue, the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium.
Hours ahead of Modi address, BJP’s candidates and local leaders came along with groups of supporters with party flags, donning Modi masks and shouting slogans. Several in the audience were from areas devastated by the recent floods. Though Sajjad Lone publicly denied that his party workers participated in the rally, there were several people who were Lone’s supporters.
Donning a light grey pheran (traditional Kashmiri gown), Modi tried to connect to the audience by promising a break from a past of despair and reminding them of what had once been hopeful: “For the last 30 years, two generations of youngsters here are without jobs and are living stressful lives. These Valleys (of Kashmir) would drive the entire India crazy. The way people desire to go to on the Badrinath and Kedarnath yatra, they had a similar desire to come to Valleys of Kashmir. And people from every corner of India would come here. The youngsters here wouldn’t need to leave their home to earn their livelihood”.
Modi said that he is such a Prime Sevak (Servant) who visits Kashmir again and again. “I have come here to share your grief and not to take anything from you. You have already given me a lot. What is bigger than love? It is now my
responsibility as to how to reciprocate your love through development.”
This is when Modi invoked Vajpayee. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee had made a good beginning (on Kashmir). The work that was started by Atalji, I will take that forward. The dream that Vajpayee had, I have to fulfil that dream. I consider it my responsibility,’’ Modi said.
During his Kashmir visit in 2003, Vajpayee had said that his government would hold talks with separatists on Kashmir “within the ambit of Insaniyat” especially because they (separatists) hadn’t agreed to hold talks
within the ambit of the Constitution.
He talked about to his plans for tourism and power generation in Kashmir which has world class health resorts and massive resources of water. “If we have to showcase a place for the tourists from around the world, there isn’t any other place in India better than Kashmir,’’ he said. “For the past 50 years, there are only two three destinations for tourists in Kashmir. There are lots of other places (of tourist attraction) in Kashmir where we need to build new roads and infrastructure”.
Without talking about Kashmir’s separatist movement, Modi said: “No road (over the pasty 30 years) has done any good to you. Now I am telling you that you should shun all those paths because there is only one path and that is vikas (development). It is the solution to all your problems,’’ he said. He said he had come with the mantra of development here.
“I won’t tolerate any discrimination,’’ he said. Modi said that “terrorism is over (in Kashmir) but corruption isn’t.” Recalling his recent meeting with SAARC leaders in Kathmandu, Modi said that he told the leaders from they must together fight against poverty, unemployment and corruption.
Though Modi refrained from talking about Pakistan – a tradition for previous Prime Ministers from a stage in the Valley – he did indirectly tell people that he won’t talk about Pakistan or its role in Kashmir and instead focus on issues of development.
He told the people about his first visit to Kutch region in Gujarat after it was hit by devastating earthquake soon after he became Gujarat Chief Minister. “Kutch is next to the border with Pakistan and has a large Muslim population. The people there told me that the leaders who visit them would talk about Pakistan, Pakistan’s activities and border but don’t talk about their problems. They asked me not to take that route. I made that my mantra. I visited Kutch again and again but never talked about Pakistan,’’ he said.
Modi also referred to the recent action taken by the Army against their own men after two boys were killed in Chattergam. “This is a wonder of Modi sarkar. The Army has registered a case against their own men. This is the proof of my good intentions before you,’’ he said and asked the people to ensure that BJP wins with a majority.
PTI adds: Earlier, he said he wished to arm the youth in the state with technology so they could decide their destiny.
“Gone are the days when the youth (of Jammu and Kashmir) used to fall in wrong hands. They have now understood the burden of the AK-47 rifle,” Modi. “He (Kashmiri youth) wants to throw the AK-rifle, which weighs 5 to 10 kg and wants to arm himself with Android One, which is lighter and faster…We want to show them the power of Android One. We want to arm them with Android one.”
Modi said that to remain in power, the Congress kept hopping from the National Conference’s lap to that of the People’s Democratic Party. “When people seek answers from them (Congress), NC or the PDP, the same Congress stabs them and presents itself to be good in front of the people,” he added.
“What have you seen in Kashmir in the last 30 years? Either it was Congress government or father-son (National
Conference) government or father-daughter (PDP) government. You have seen all three types of government,” he said. “For themselves, they got everything but did nothing for you. Get rid of all three of them for once and give me one chance to serve you. I will make your dreams my own. I will put my entire government at your service,” the Prime Minister said.