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J&K polls: PDP woos Hindu voters in Jammu

By Tejinder Singh Sodhi
November 02, 2014 19:23 IST
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In its attempt to clinch majority in the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir assembly, Opposition Peoples Democratic Party is trying to make inroads in Jammu by raking up "regional discrimination" and secularism card to woo the Hindu voters of the region.

On the campaign trail, PDP's top leadership -- former Chief Minister and party patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and the sitting party MP from Baramulla Muzaffar Hussain Baig -- not only tried to strike a chord with the people of the region by flagging "discrimination" issue but also promised Jammu its due once they return to power on their own in the state.

PDP leaders are reaching out to the people of Jammu region by meeting traders, sections of various sects and society to garner support in its intensified bid to convince Hindu voters and increase its political and electoral turf in the state.

Mufti flanked by Beigh on Sunday launched his party's campaign for Nagrota assembly constituency, which was vacated by Bharatiya Janata Party state president, Jugal Kishore after being elected as MP from Jammu parliament seat.

Regional discrimination with the Hindu majority Jammu region has always remained a major poll plank in the state. The Hindu dominated region has always accused Kashmir-based leadership of regional bias.

"Jammu is an example of secularism as the people of the region not only gave shelter to the Kashmiri Pandit community when they migrated, but also the people here gave shelter to a large number of nationalist Kashmiri Muslims who fled Kashmir when the turmoil started," Sayeed told party workers in Nagrota.

The BJP, which had been traditionally raising discrimination card along with Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, has forced Congress toe to the line and raise the same bogey to save their seats.

Recently, a Jammu-based Congress leader and Cabinet Minister Sham Lal Sharma resigned from the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government after accusing Kashmir-based National Conference ministers of "discriminating Jammu based daily wage workers."

To take advantage of the alleged discontent among the Jammu voters who have accused Kashmir centric leaders of regional bias, the PDP has too played the regional discrimination card in the hope to open its account in the region in the upcoming assembly elections.

"Since Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah there has been a mistrust amongst the people of Jammu region as they never got proper representation in the government, but we will make sure that when we form the government every region and every religion gets equal representation," Mufti said.

Mufti who served as Union Home Minster during the V P Singh government was the state president of Congress when Shiekh Abdullah was made the chief minister in 1975.

Mufti, who formed PDP in 2001/2002, became the chief minister after his party won 16 seats the JK Assembly with the outside support of Congress.

Various quarters had criticised the healing touch policy of Sayeed government; who had disbanded the Special Task Force of the police and did not implement the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the state.

To woe the Hindu and Rajput voters in the region, the party has also roped in Yuvraj Vikramaditya Singh who is the grandson of the erstwhile ruler of the state, Maharaja Hari Singh.

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Tejinder Singh Sodhi
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