Monday, December 8, 2014

Modi's Srinagar Rally Fizzles

Modest crowd, high hopes

Zahid Rafiq

Women listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a rally at Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar on Monday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
The Hindu
Women listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a rally at Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar on Monday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
On Monday morning, hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket stadium to address his first-ever rally in Srinagar, groups of people walked through the foggy streets of Lal Chowk to reach the TRC Road where the J&K Police and CRPF had set up the first tier of the security check.
The number of people, though in thousands, was much below the BJP target of “one lakh” for the rally. The J&K police estimated the crowd to be around 7,000.
People were brought from villages, near and far, and from Ramban and Banihal districts of Jammu in vehicles arranged by the BJP.
While a few came to hear Mr. Modi, others hoped that their myriad problems would be solved by going to the rally. “An important announcement is going to be made about relief for the flood victims today [on Monday] and I have lost my house and cowshed in the floods. I am hopeful that we would be helped,” Mohammad Yaqoob Wagay, a resident of Sumbal in north Kashmir, told The Hindu.
Mr. Wagay said vehicles came to their village to pick them up and dropped them a kilometre from the venue. He said they were promised to be dropped back to their village after the rally.
The TRC Road was covered with BJP buntings and hoardings welcoming Mr. Modi to Kashmir. Each BJP candidate came with a dozen supporters who shouted slogans in support of Mr. Modi and the BJP. The candidates arrived one by one from Hazratbal, Batamaloo and many other places in the Valley.
Scores of vehicles packed with people came from People’s Conference (PC) leader Sajjad Lone’s constituency Handwara. Some PC workers walked the roads near the venue with BJP scarves around their neck. “I am a worker of People’s Conference. We came here to support the BJP,” one of the attendants told The Hindu.
Before Mr. Modi arrived at the venue, several local BJP leaders tried hard to cheer the crowd and get them to shout pro-India and pro-BJP slogans.

National » Other States

Updated: December 8, 2014 13:42 IST

‘BJP bringing people from Jammu for Modi’s Srinagar rally’


Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
The Hindu
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday accused the BJP of bringing in supporters from other parts of the State for Prime Mister Narendra Modi’s rally in Srinagar.
“Two trainloads of supporters are being brought in from Banihal in Jammu. Why not just have the rally there?” Mr. Abdullah tweeted.
“Not a single BJP flag or banner on the vehicles or with the people I saw walking into the stadium. Such a telling sign of BJP support.”
The Chief Minister also hit out at Congress, which was coalition partner of his National Conference for the last six years, saying even some leaders supported by Congress have been asked to provide people for the rally.
“Amazingly even Cong(ress) supported ‘leaders’ have been asked to contribute people to the BJP rally. Politics makes for strange bedfellows,” he said.
He was apparently referring to Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, who joined the Cabinet in 2009 from Congress quota, though he had contested the 2008 elections as an independent candidate. 

Copyright© 2014, The Hindu 


What Modi didn't say in Srinagar was more important than the words he uttered
It's time to move on, prime minister seems to be signalling.

Today · 05:08 pm

Photo Credit: IANS

Wearing the traditional Kashmiri pheran gown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told voters in Srinagar that he had come to give them justice.

At an election rally attended by 8,000 people in the Sheri Kashmir Stadium, the prime minister spoke about how the rights of Kashmiris had been abused, the problem with Pakistan and last month’s civilian killings in Chattergam for which army found its eight of its men guilty.  Modi noted with pride that the Indian army had come to the rescue of Kashmiris trapped in September’s floods.

What he didn’t talk about was more important. He failed to mention Article 370, which gives special status to Kashmir and which his Bharatiya Janata Party has promised to abolish. The four militant attacks on Friday found no place in his speech. He did not lay out his plans for his policy toward Pakistan. “Terrorism is over but corruption isn’t,” he said.

Moving on

In his elisions lay his message: it’s time to move ahead, he seemed to say. The violence of recent decades should be forgotten since he had come “to return people’s love with interest” by taking the path of development.

How this will change the situation on the ground is as yet unclear. Despite the high turnouts in the first two phases of voting, Kashmiris still have many complaints against India. It is unlikely that the situation in Kashmir will change after the elections, as the main issue   ̶  the aspirations of the Kashmiri people  ̶̶̶̶̶  remains unresolved.

The fact that the state is still far from returning to normalcy was obvious from the state of siege in Srinagar.  Around a million people living in the city were forced to stay indoors during the rally. Around 3,000 paramilitary forces were stationed in and around the venue.

Controlled audience

Though the rally was supposed to be open to the public, the crowd consisted solely of supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party who had been bussed in from elsewhere, and members of small allies, such as Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference.

It’s clear that BJP has entered into the political fabric of the Valley successfully. But it has a long way to go to become a major player.
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