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10 years after Jammu rally, Modi’s Mission-370 stands accomplished

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally in Jammu in December 2013 (Courtesy BJP.ORG)

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz/Jammu

On Tuesday, 20 February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to start the campaign for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from Jammu. It’s from here that he had kicked off the campaign for the 2014 elections which saw Modi become India’s Prime Minister. Back then his rally was attended by over one lakh people.

Modi’s association with J&K is as old as BJP’s (and its earlier Avatars) promise to end the state’s preferential status in the polity. He was a member of the then BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi’s daredevil mission of raising the National Flag at Lal Chowk, Srinagar on the 1992 Republic Day during the heydays of terrorism.

Days before this tense event, a terrorist-installed bomb went off inside the Police headquarters in Srinagar as the entire top brass of security forces were finalizing security arrangements for the BJP’s march and the Republic Day ceremonies.

One constable was killed and five top officers, including Director General Police J N Saksena, were injured. In Punjab, terrorists wearing police uniforms attacked buses carrying the BJP supporters to J&K and killed five persons. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Srinagar during his 2019 visit

However, unfazed by all these risks and hurdles, the Joshi-Modi team hoisted the national flag at Lal Chowk.

Later the same year, Modi traveled across Kashmir in the guise of a journalist and human rights activist. He continued his visits till 2014. As Prime Minister for two consecutive terms, Modi visited J&K 15 times.

At his 2013 rally, Modi spoke about the ethnic Gurjars’ roots in his home State of Gujarat. He didn’t mention Pakistan or terrorism. Even on Article 370, he didn’t go beyond proposing “a discussion” on the merits and demerits of J&K’s special status.

 

“Friends, …now it is the need-of-the-hour that in the context of the people of J&K, in the context of their benefits, their rights, at least in J&K and in the entire nation, it must be discussed whether Article 370 has been beneficial for the common man here? No one is ready to discuss it..!”, he said.

Referring to the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s allegations that the BJP is high on rhetoric and doesn’t fulfill promises it makes to people, Modi said at the rally, “I would like to remind him that the then Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said regarding Article 370 in the Parliament that this Article will fade away with time..! Is your government ready to do what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said”.

Narendra Modi addressing people in Kishtwar, Jammu, at an election rally in December 2013

He went on: “Friends, Article 370 has become a shield and is being used as one. It has been armoured with communal jewels and just because of this, a valid discussion on it is not happening. I want the experts on the Constitution to discuss it. Just see the laws based on which the Delhi government is asking for votes in the four states, saying that we made this law and that law, etc…! Are the laws that the government is flaunting being implemented in J&K?”

 

On an emotional note, Modi mentioned Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the Jan Sangh leader who died in a Srinagar jail after he was arrested by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s government for violating the then permit system for entry into the state 70 years ago.

In April 2017, PM Modi inaugurated one of the longest road tunnels in India, near Jammu, and named it after Mookerjee.

It was only in his second term that PM Modi fulfilled his party’s core commitment to end J&K’s special status when on August 5, 2019; the state was stripped of its status and split into two Union Territories. 

J&K has gone through a sea change as almost all the Central laws have been applied to the UT in the last four years.

As his ‘Mission-370’ stands accomplished, Modi is seeking dividends of this magical number in the upcoming general elections. In the last two weeks, he made at least two big statements inside and outside the Parliament, seeking 370 seats for the BJP and over 400 for the NDA-II. BJP winning 370 seats, according to him, would be a tribute to the party ideologue Mookerjee.

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“370 is not merely a number for the BJP. It symbolizes a profound sentiment. Mookerjee made the ultimate sacrifice for the abrogation of Article 370 to preserve our nation’s unity and integrity. As a true tribute to him, the BJP should secure victory in 370 seats,” Modi said in his address to the BJP office-bearers conclave in Delhi.

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