BJP’s U-turn on Articles 370 and 35A, vis-a-vis the promise it made in the 2015 “agenda of alliance” with the PDP of not tinkering with these provisions, has become the talking point on the last day of campaigning for the Jammu and Baramulla Lok Sabha seats that will go to polls on 11 April. The campaign for these seats will come to an end at 6 pm on Tuesday.
Congress refers to the agenda of alliance agreed upon mutually by PDP and BJP in 2015.
The key points of the agenda of alliance between the PDP and the BJP were:
1. Article370: “The present position will be maintained on all constitutional provisions including special status.”
2. Dialogue with Hurriyat Conference: “The coalition government will facilitate sustained dialogue with all stakeholders irrespective of their ideological views.”
3. “All the land other than those given to the security forces on the basis of lease, licenses and acquisition under the provision of the land acquisition act shall be returned to the rightful owners except in a situation where retaining the land is absolutely imperative in view of a special security requirement.”
The situation for the BJP is not that comfortable as it was in the 2014 elections as the party is facing hurdles in the Jammu constituency where its candidate Jugal Kishore is seeking re-election. The party strategists had been working day and night, particularly in the Rajouri and Poonch districts where the BJP is facing opposition.
The party is putting in efforts in Baramulla to open its account in the Kashmir valley for the first time where it is also supporting a former separatist Sajjad Lone.
It was a clean sweep for BJP on the two seats of Jammu division—Jammu and Udhampur—but this time, the situation is such that some senior leaders of the party were not allowed to address a rally on the outskirts of Jammu for not fulfilling their promises.
The Congress and other parties are accusing the BJP leadership of frequently changing their stand on the contentious issues of Articles 370 and 35A.
Congress candidate Raman Bhalla, in his election rallies on the last day, aggressively accused the BJP of “fooling” the electorate. In a bid to grab power with the PDP in 2015, the BJP had, in its agenda of alliance, committed that no tinkering will be done with the Articles 370 and 35A that provide special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the BJP, in its manifesto released on Monday, has taken a U-turn and promised abrogation of these Articles, Bhalla said. He pointed out that the BJP had in the agenda of alliance also promised dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference and other stakeholders irrespective of their ideological views but was now accusing the Congress of being soft towards such elements.
While BJP’s campaign has been high-profile in Jammu where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP chief Amit Shah were among those who addressed election rallies, the Congress relied on local leadership and perhaps Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, was the only one to come from Delhi to campaign for Bhalla.