Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi called for a relook at the entire ambit of Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing his maiden ‘Lalkar’ rally Jammu after he was nominated as
BJP’s candidate to the prime minister’s post, he said, “The need of the hour was to have a debate on Article 370; whether or not it had helped the people of the state. Despite huge natural resources Jammu and Kashmir is nowhere in development when compared to Gujarat.”
It is a departure from BJP's position seeking complete abrogation of the Article giving special status to J&K in the Union of India.
He made a special reference to the herbal richness of Kashmir and quoted from the ‘Ramayana’ saying it were the Himalayas from where Hanuman had obtained the mythical herb. Modi said that the Jammu and Kashmir government was “unable to exploit the tremendous herbal potential of the Himalayas in the state”.
“The Congress party makes tall claims about people friendly laws enacted by it, but are laws were enforced in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Modi made a scathing attack on former prime minister Pandit Jawahar Nehru and praised the BJP ideologue Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who died in 1953 in a prison in Jammu and Kashmir. “Had Mukherjee not agitated we would still need a permit to enter the state,” he added.
Modi also attacked Omar Abdullah saying that the chief minister’s claims to protect the rights of women were hollow. “Does Omar’s sister who is married to an outsider have the same rights in Jammu and Kashmir?”
He promised to carry forward the BJP policy of insaniyat, jamhuriyat and kashmiriyat as envisioned by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “I will carry forward Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s agenda of insaniyat (Humanity), jamhuriyat (democracy) and kashmiriyat (cmposite secular culture) if I come to power at the centre.”
He praised the erstwhile Dogra Maharaja of the state, Hari Singh asserting that he had worked for the upliftment of the under privileged sections of the society.
Taking on the Centre for its China policy, the Gujarat chief minister claimed that China had been distributing free SIM cards to villagers along the border with India. "I want to ask whether our telecom ministry can't provide the same," he said.
Modi also spoke about "non-implmentation" of the 73rd Amendment providing financial powers to panchayats and took a veiled dig at the ruling National Conference, saying, "Those who talk about autonomy are not ready to provide the same to their own elected local bodies."
He accused the state government of indulging in corruption and said the Prevention of Corruption Act is applicable everywhere other than Jammu and Kashmir. "For 60 years they talked about separate state (autonomy) but what did people get? Nothing and there is no accountability also...In the name of separate state, they encouraged separatism. "It would have been better if they focused on creating a super state," he said.
Even though data show that the state had been receiving record number of tourists, the BJP prime ministerial candidate claimed that tourism in the state had been suffering. "Tourism is suffering here. Tourists are going to Himachal Pradesh. Saundarya aur Shradha ke liye acha tourism hai yahan par (J&K is a good place for natural beauty and religious tourism)," he said.
Modi referred to Bollywood celebrating its 100 years and said, "A lot of films were shot here. Why could J&K not get a film institute? Sadly they are not interested in development and progress." He also said that why can't the government consider a route to Kailash Mansarovar from Leh in order to boost the tourism in the Ladakh region.
Earlier, BJP President Rajnath Singh told the rally that that his party would raise in Parliament the issue of the border agreement reached with China.
"Recently Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited China where he signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement which has many controversial clauses. One clause, as I am made to understand, is that border forces of either country would not tail each other if they inadvertently entered each other's territory," he said.
The BJP president said that the PM did not think of taking Parliament into confidence before entering into such an agreement.
"With the Parliament session starting from December 5, the BJP will rake up this issue and demand a statement from the government," he added.
Modi arrived in Jammu on Sunday morning and drove to the rally venue under heavy security. Thousands of police, paramilitary, central reserve police force troopers had been deployed around the stadium, which had been sealed two days ahead of his address.
All vehicles and pedestrians were searched by the security forces. A special team of the Gujarat police, which arrived in Jammu last week carried out the Advance Security Liaison drill to sanitise the venue in close coordination with the Jammu and Kashmir police.
With inputs from PTI