PM spins Bollywood dreams for Kashmir

Read more below

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 23.11.14
  •  

Srinagar, Nov. 22: Narendra Modi promised the return of Bollywood and steered clear of any mention of Article 370 in his first election rally in Jammu and Kashmir today.

The abrogation of Article 370, the law that grants Kashmir its special status, remains on the BJP’s agenda but the party is not flagging it for now as it ambitiously aims for majority in the Muslim-majority state.

“A Kashmiri is a Kashmiri. He goes to temple, a mosque or a gurdwara but that is his personal issue. For us he is a Kashmiri... to change his destiny is our job,” Modi said.

He was addressing a gathering at Jammu’s Kishtwar town where three people were killed, dozens were injured and property worth crores was torched in bitter communal clashes last year. The Prime Minister did not mention the riots.

The BJP has been focusing on development in its election campaign, aware that raising contentious issues would polarise the population and work against it in the election. The party is contesting 70 out of 87 seats in the state and 31 of its candidates are Muslims.

“Our film industry was mad after Kashmir. Any film that did not feature Kashmir would not sell. They left Kashmir for New Zealand and other places. I have to bring them back. There should be shooting again in these valleys and the world should get to see this place again,” Modi said, stressing he wanted the state to become a big tourist destination again.

While militancy had driven away Bollywood and tourists from Kashmir, in the past decade film crews have returned as have visitors in large numbers. But the Prime Minister appeared to convey that the state remains a forbidden place for both.

“We have to remake the Kashmir that would invite the entire world to this place,” he said.

Praising Kashmiris for their honesty, he said no tourist had ever complained that he had lost his wallet or phone here and it was not returned.

Modi also promised to fulfil the dream of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee about Kashmir that, he said, was based on ”democracy, humanity and Kashmiriyat”. “Trust my words, Modi will use all his might to fulfil that dream,” he said, adding that he comes to the state often to develop it and wipe the tears of people.

Hitting out at the Abdullahs and Muftis, the Prime Minister said: “Who is responsible for harming the interests of the state? Will only these two families rule the state? Do the people and youth of the state not have the capability to run this state? These families had a pact to loot the state in successive turns. The time has come to change this.”

Modi recalled how Kutch in Gujarat has developed under his rule and claimed that the drinking water pipes in his home state are big enough for a car carrying all members of chief minister Omar Abdullah’s family to pass through.

Abdullah, addressing election rallies, said no economic packages or development dreams can substitute an acceptable and just resolution of Kashmir’s political issue. “There isn’t a moment in my political career that I have wasted in not demanding the resolution of the Kashmir issue according to the sentiments and political aspirations of our people,” he said.

“We can build a thousand concrete bridges and pave thousands of kilometres of new roads but until and unless we build a political bridge that connects the people of this state to their political aspirations, the ground reality will remain unchanged,” the National Conference leader said.