Srinagar: At an event to felicitate the newly-elected Block Development Council chairpersons in Kashmir Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) went spiritual, advising them to see it as an opportunity given by God to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad and serve the people.
The event was held at Srinagar’s Tagore Hall, and attended by senior J&K BJP leaders such as president Ravinder Raina, general secretary Ashok Kaul, former MLC Surinder Ambardar and former transport minister Sunil Sharma.
While BJP managed to win only 18 of the 131 seats it contested in the BDC elections held last month, the party said it had provided support to over 50 Independent candidates, taking its tally to 72, according to spokesperson Altaf Thakur. Some of these candidates joined the BJP Tuesday.
Service of the people
While there was no mention of controversial issues such as the scrapping of Article 370, Raina asked the BDC chairpersons to discharge their duties honestly and on the principles of Khidmat-e-Khalq (service of people) upheld by the Prophet, so that they achieve the satisfaction of having done something good.
“Prophet Muhammad followed the principles of Khidmat-e-Khalq. You should also see this opportunity provided from above, so that you can follow Prophet Muhammad,” Raina said.
Other local leaders also started their speeches with verses from the Qur’an, making the event unique compared to other party functions. However, when it came to the BJP’s strategy for the newly-minted Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the speeches offered a glimpse at the future.
BJP functionaries asked the BDC chairpersons to prepare for upcoming District Development Council (DDC) and panchayat elections. Sixty per cent of such posts have remained vacant since 2018, when local body elections were held in the erstwhile state.
Attacks on NC & PDP
J&K’s mainstream parties such as Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party had boycotted the BDC elections. However, Raina claimed they had put up “dummy” and “shadow” candidates to counter the BJP.
This was not the only example of the NC and PDP coming under fire at the event — Kashmir MPs Abdullah, Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi were repeatedly evoked.
“Imagine Farooq Abdullah coming to a board meeting and asking a BDC chairperson to get work done in his constituency. Imagine Akbar Lone coming to office of a sister who is a BDC chairperson and asking her permission to sit. Imagine Hasnain Masoodi asking BDC chairperson to install pipes in his constituency,” Raina said.
The leaders said the BJP had disrupted the NC and PDP’s power structures, but also attributed it to ‘karma’, saying their earlier conduct had led to their current state. Senior NC and PDP leaders have been detained or arrested since 5 August.
The BDC chairpersons were told that not only will Kashmir Administrative Service officers be subservient to them, but also that MPs and MLAs will have to depend on them to conduct government work in their constituencies.
General secretary and RSS ideologue Ashok Kaul, meanwhile, told the chairpersons that if their personal ambitions are a priority, they should immediately leave the BJP.