BJP plays up Amarnath land row in Jammu campaignDecember 19th, 2008 - 5:52 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu, Dec 19 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched a major campaign in Jammu district to refresh the memory of voters about the Amarnath land row. The final phase of polling in Jammu and Kashmir is to be held Dec 24. The party is reminding the voters in Hindu dominated Jammu district about what they call the antagonistic approach of the Congress, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on allotment of government land to the Amarnath shrine board.
Through advertisements in newspapers, radio and local TV as well as pamphlets, the party is highlighting the statements made against the land allotment to the shrine board by former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, NC patron and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, NC president Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.
The Jammu region witnessed an agitation for over two months this year against the cancellation of government land allotment at Baltal in Kashmir to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board to erect temporary facilities for thousands of pilgrims visiting the Hindu shrine annually from various parts of the country.
The BJP had started that agitation which political analysts like Rekha Chowdhary felt was “to grab and exploit the issue that had religious sentiments attached to it”. The movement was later handed over to Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti.
The party has been harping on the Amarnath land issue and discrimination against the Jammu region to woo voters.
BJP leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had described Kuldeep Verma, who committed suicide over the land row, as freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
Kuldeep’s wife Shilpi Verma is contesting from Bishnah assembly constituency as a BJP nominee.
Raman Bhalla, Congress candidate from Gandhi Nagar constituency in Jammu, feels that BJP will not be able to encash on the issue.
“We had all participated in that movement for land to Amarnath Shrine Board. But that cannot be the election issue. It’s development, progress and employment that people vote for in elections.”
He said that as far as discrimination against Jammu was concerned, his party has promised to address it in its manifesto.
Omar Abdullah said: “Voters are too mature to stick to non-issue and divisive politics.”
Deen Dayal Kapoor, a businessman of Raghunath bazaar in Jammu, said: “Religion is something personal and election is for day to day governance. While voting we have to think about provision of basic essentials.”
Shakti Dhar Sharma, a retired teacher, said: “Those who are asking for vote in name of religion are not only betraying voters but god as well.”
However, Parichet Gupta, a shopkeeper in posh Gandhi Nagar area, said: “Amarnath issue will have its impact on voting pattern and only BJP can address the discrimination against Jammu in all respects.”