The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Valley poll in BJP showcase

New Delhi, Oct. 8: The BJP has collectively decided to counter the VHP charge that the Centre has not been able to tackle “Pakistan-sponsored” terrorism effectively.

Well-placed party sources said the strategy would aim not so much to rein in hot-headed elements of the Hindutva brigade as make the point that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government had achieved some “success” on the terrorism front.

But the campaign to propagate this achievement will begin only after the Jammu and Kashmir election results are out, the sources said. The election will be showcased as the “best example” of how the “grit, determination and democratic instincts” of the Kashmiris foiled the efforts of Pakistan-trained militants and “paper tigers” like the Hurriyat Conference to deter voters.

“The people of Kashmir defied the diktat of the paper tigers who were all the time talking of a tripartite solution involving Pakistan. The election was conducted within the Indian Union and, by all accounts, it was fair and free. This is no mean achievement,” the sources maintained.

BJP sources also pointed out that the poll turnout had isolated Pakistan in the international community. “The US, which has been Pakistan’s ally for 50 years, would also be forced to acknowledge that elections in Jammu and Kashmir were impartial while those in our neighbouring country were suspect. It’s a diplomatic success for this government,” they said.

However, the sources admitted that they were still not sure if RSS cadre would appreciate the “diplomatic success” and dilute their misgivings about the government.

“We will have to match this achievement with statistics to prove that many more militants were killed during our tenure than previous ones,” they said.

However, party sources made it clear there would be no attempt to ask the VHP to shut up. “People are very upset and rightly so, with Pakistan and the terrorist killings. If we ask them not to speak aloud, their frustrations with us will increase and they may end up doing something drastic,” the sources explained.

Indeed, BJP members felt that the VHP’s outpourings were a “useful” way of expressing the rank-and-file’s “anger and anguish” against the terrorists.

The BJP was apparently not unduly worried about repeating the good show in the last Assembly elections when it picked up 14 seats, mainly in the Jammu region. A section of Central leaders was of the view that if the ruling National Conference (NC) fell short of majority, the BJP should bail it out if it was in a position to do so.

Despite the antagonism of the Jammu and Kashmir BJP towards the NC, a senior leader said: “A coalition led by the NC may not be a bad thing because it will mark the end of the hegemony the Abdullah dynasty had for all these years. The participating parties will keep the NC on a leash,” he said.

However, getting the Jammu and Kashmir BJP to agree to this is easier said than done, the leader said. State leaders felt that had the BJP backed the RSS demand for a three-way division of the state, the BJP would have confidently maintained its earlier tally and perhaps improved on it.

The Jammu and Kashmir BJP squarely blamed Farooq Abdullah for discriminating against the Jammu region and Leh-Ladakh and for allowing the Valley’s Muslims to resettle in the lower reaches allegedly to “change” the Hindu-majority demographic composition of the area.

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