Modi's 'lalkar' rally: New stand on Article 370, hints at new ally

Narendra Modi's 'lalkar' rally, his first in the state since being made the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, may prove to be the game changer for his party.

Sameer Yasir December 02, 2013 09:44:05 IST
Modi's 'lalkar' rally: New stand on Article 370, hints at new ally

Jammu: Narendra Modi's 'lalkar' rally, his first in the state since being made the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, may prove to be the game changer for his party in the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

The rally must perhaps be the first BJP rally held in the state, where an estimated ninety thousand people crowded inside and outside the stadium to listen to the party's prime ministerial candidate.

Some like 35-year-old Parveena Chowdry travelled more than three hundred kilometres from a remote village in Kupwara in north Kashmir to listen to Modi.

She said that she had left from home two days ago so that she could make it to the rally in time. She was among over an estimated six thousand people who travelled to Jammu from Kashmir for the rally.

"We came in a bus from Kupwara to listen to Modiji. He will change the discrimination meted out to the Gujjars of Kashmir when he will become the prime minster of the country," Chowdry said.

Modis lalkar rally New stand on Article 370 hints at new ally

Modi was addressing his first rally in the state since becoming the party's PM candidate. Shahid Tantray/ Firstpost

The entire Jammu province was shut today thanks to the rally and was the atmosphere inside the stadium was electric. When Modi arrived at the venue and shook hands with a man wearing a skull cap, his audience cheered.

But it was the content of the BJP prime ministerial candidate's speech that may offer some clues for the party's plans in the state for the upcoming national elections.

Modi and party president Rajnath Singh spoke on topics ranging from about Article 370 of the constitution, corruption, underdevelopment, the incursion into Indian territory by Chinese troops and even herbal medicine. They also took digs at the ruling National Conference and Congress.

However, not one BJP leader who spoke from the dais said anything about the Kashmir-centric Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It was almost as surprising as the party's newly softened stance on Article 370 of the constitution.

While the BJP and PDP have been loggerheads with each in state politics, the rally may offer hints of what the party's strategy may be in the 2014 elections.

Conscious of where he was speaking, Modi preferred to speak about development and progress rather than local politics or even hitting out at separatists, barring a few passing statements.

He attempted to connect with the youth, a large number of whom were present at the rally, by asking why the state didn't have national institutions of learning like IITs and IIMs, like neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.

Modi also hit out at the state and central government saying that they were not interested in ensuring the progress of the state.

He promised that if voted to power the BJP would follow the policy model set by the Former Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who he said was the first prime minster to travel to Kashmir after the conflict erupted in the state.

The Gujarat Chief Minister chose to personally target his J&K counterpart by alleging that Omar Abdullah's sister didn't enjoy the same rights he did.

“The rights that your chief minister has, does his sister Sara Pilot enjoy the same rights? No, because she married outside the state. I am not talking about Hindus or Muslims. I am talking about the people of J&K."

"Development comes when there is integration. Men and women must have same rights. Should there be discrimination again women in J&K? Shouldn't the injustice stop.” Modi said to his audience, that responded with cheers.

Abdullah as expected did not take Modi's statements lying down and took to Twitter to counter.

"He very conveniently used me and my sister as examples to illustrate a point that has NO bearing in truth. Either he lies or is ill informed," Abdullah tweeted.

The excitement surrounding the the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate's rally was very visible throughout the day and even offers hints to the BJP's strategy for the upcoming polls. If the party is able to sustain its activists' enthusiasm and the Modi wave survives in Jammu, it could have an impact on the results of the next assembly and parliament elections in the state.

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