Amarnath row comes alive in Jammu

April 13th, 2009 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Jammu, April 13 (IANS) The Amarnath land row seems to have come alive again. Not on the streets of this Jammu and Kashmir winter capital but at least in the political rhetoric one gets to hear during the election campaign these days.
The Congress is targeting Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Leela Karan Sharma, who spearheaded the Hindu agitation in Jammu after the state government last year cancelled the allotment of 40 hectares of land in the Kashmir Valley to create shelters for Amarnath cave temple pilgrims. The cancellation was later revoked.

State Congress president Saifuddin Soz in his election meetings alleges that Sharma, who recently joined the BJP, tried to divide the state on communal lines.

“Leela Karanji tried to sow the seeds of hatred, cause communal polarization and also smear the name of Jammu - an epitome of secularism,” Soz said in one of his election rallies.

Vote for Sharma, who as convenor of the Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti led the agitation, would be a vote for the “politics of hatred” and negation of secularist values, the Congress says.

Amid the Congress criticism, the BJP hails Sharma as the “protector of the prestige of Jammu”.

“Had he not been there, Jammu would have lost all its dignity and honour. He is the iron man, and each vote for him and his success would mean upholding the honour of Jammu,” says BJP’s state president Ashok Khajuria.

Sharma reminds people of the agitation for the restoration of the land to the shrine board and his role. “That was one battle that Jammu won and now it is another battle (election) which we cannot afford to lose,” he told one of his election rallies.

Significantly, Leela Karan has confined his campaign to the Hindu dominated parts of the Jammu region.

Congress candidate Madan Lal Sharma has another stick to beat the BJP candidate in poll rhetoric. “The two-month long agitation denied our daily wagers their sources of income, our schools and colleges remained closed and life was brought to a complete halt, tourists did not visit and we all suffered,” he says.

The are 1.7 million voters in Jammu-Poonch parliamentary constituency, which goes to polls in the first phase April 16.

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