BJP rally will be X-Mas spoiler, say Jammu residents

The BJP may be gearing up for its "haha rally" here on Christmas Eve, but upset Jammu residents say it will be a big spoiler for the festive spirit.

Jammu: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may be gearing up for its "haha rally" here on Christmas Eve, but upset Jammu residents say it will be a big spoiler for the festive spirit.

The top BJP leadership, including L.K. Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, will be addressing a rally here Dec 24 to underwrite the party`s position of "Jammu and Kashmir being an integral part of India".

They would challenge Chief Minister Omar Abdullah`s remarks in the state assembly Oct 6 when he said the Kashmir issue is yet to be settled, raising questions on the finality of the accession of the Himalayan state with India.

While the BJP is mobilising all its resources to make it a "success", people in Jammu are angry over it.

"The accession issue is settled and the BJP by raising the issue at a rally is going to open old wounds. Moreover, the party could have made a choice of some other day and date for the rally as this is the festive season when tourists and pilgrims visit the state in large numbers," said Ashok Gupta, a shopkeeper here.

Many tourists throng the tourist resort of Patnitop, 100 km north of Jammu, during X-Mas and year-end. The rush to Vaishno Devi shrine is also very high these days. The shrine has already attracted more than 8.3 million pilgrims, which is the highest ever figure of arrival of pilgrims in any year. Last year, 7.5 million pilgrims had visited the shrine, revered by Hindus in India and abroad.

Residents here fear high level security arrangements during the visit of the top brass of the BJP and restrictions on the movement of common people.

Police have already started making security arrangements. "We will be on high vigil during the period," a senior officer said.
A BJP leader of the state unit said on condition of anonymity that the rally was first meant to be held in October but was postponed. "Moreover, it`s the choice of the top leaders, we cannot fiddle with the dates," he said.

Balwinder Singh, a student of Jammu university, said: "This is sheer politics, no party cares for the people. All they care about is how to politicise issues and take people for a ride.
"Jammu has been free of trouble so far," he said referring to the region staying calm despite violence in the Valley in the past six months. "Any provocative statement at the rally would be a big mood spoiler as there are others waiting to react."

He said this was not a good time to hold a political rally.


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