May 2016 News

BJP's New Kashmir Strategy: Public Durbars To 'gain Foothold'

13 May 2016
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: Aiming to strengthen its position in Kashmir, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), which runs the coalition Government with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, has started public durbars in the Valley to 'address peoples' problems', on the directions from the party high command. The move comes at a time when the State Government is preparing for holding elections to Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats in the State. Sources in the BJP told Greater Kashmir the party has tasked 10 ministers to hold interactions with people in each of the 10 districts of Kashmir on fortnightly basis. 'Each of the ministers will be holding several meeting in different areas of the assigned district after every fortnight. The officials concerned will be part of these meetings to ensure that issues raised by people are taken care of within time-bound manner,' said the sources. 'These public interactions will be a regular phenomenon for resolving issues concerning people,' said senior BJP leader Ashok Koul. To begin with, on May 11, some BJP ministers held public interactions in six districts of Valley-Srinagar, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Budgam, Pulwama and Kulgam. In Srinagar, party minister Choudhary Lal Singh presided over the meeting that also saw participation by several top officials of the district. 'We have promised people to take government to their doorsteps. The public durbar has been a success in the States run by the party outside and now we have decided to introduce the model in Kashmir as well,' said a senior BJP Minister. He said the party would be reviewing the progress on the issues raised by people in the meetings after every 10 days. 'We won't tolerate any leniency on part of officials,' the minister said. The party is mulling to hold public interactions in every constituency and at district headquarters on fortnightly basis in coming months, said BJP's media in charge Altaf Thakur. The party has been trying to make inroads on Kashmir's political turf, particularly after coming to power in New Delhi. In 2014 Assembly elections, the party had got the highest vote share of 23 percent, winning 25 seats, in J&K. However the setback for the party was that it failed to win even a single seat in Kashmir, securing a vote share of just 2.2 percent in the Valley. In May last year, the BJP reportedly claimed to have registered three lakh members in the Valley. The new strategy, the public durbars, coincides with party's preparations for the upcoming elections for local bodies and Panchayats. 'We have to prepare for elections whenever they are held,' said Ashok Koul. He said the public durbars were also being held in Jammu.