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Why Rahul Gandhi sees an opportunity for Congress in Kashmir

The visit is important in the backdrop of the declining popularity of the PDP-BJP coalition government and what many call the uncertain future of the coalition government.

Written by Basharaat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: October 7, 2016 5:07:54 pm
Rahul Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi Kashmir, Kashmir Valley Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi addresses Saffron growers at a rally at Pampore in Pulwama district on Thursday. (Source: PTI)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. After spending a day with the victims of cross-border firing on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu, Rahul visited the Valley. Rahul’s decision to choose the Valley for a visit — especially at a time when important events of national importance are unfolding in other parts of the country like Gujarat — assumes significance.

The visit is important in the backdrop of the declining popularity of the PDP-BJP coalition government and what many call the uncertain future of the coalition government.

Rahul didn’t mince words in his speech when he said that the next government in the state would be of the Congress and that it would come soon. Congress sees an opportunity in the fast declining popularity of the coalition government in the state. While PDP was aware of the consequences of an alliance with BJP, the party hoped that its developmental agenda would help it to rebuild its image and make people to forget about the alliance with the BJP.

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However, the failure of the coalition on the developmental front and the frequent controversies in the coalition has given Congress hope in the Valley.

The results of the 2014 assembly elections have also forced Congress to shift its focus towards Kashmir. While Congress lost its stronghold of Jammu to BJP, all its seats came from Kashmir and the Muslim majority Pir Panjal and Chenab regions of Jammu.

That’s why in his speeches in the Valley, Rahul recounted the developmental projects and schemes launched in the valley by the UPA government and took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government for failing to provide a relief and rehabilitation package for the flood victims of the valley. In the Valley, Rahul raised the issues and problems of “farmers, labourers and the downtrodden” but he gave a local touch to every issue.

While Rahul criticized the BJP, both at centre and the state for its “communalism” and “links with a coterie of businessmen”, he was cautious while talking about its coalition partner PDP because he knows that any government in power in Jammu & Kashmir can only be a coalition government, one in which PDP may well be its partner.

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