August 2018 News

BJP's Move To Spread Its Footprint In Valley Suffers Setback

23 August 2018
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: BJP's plan to spread its footprints in Kashmir received a setback as militants have started selective killings of party's 'vistaraks' deputed in different parts of the Valley. These full-time workers (vistaraks) help the BJP to strengthen organisational network across the Valley. The murder of Gowhar Bhat, 30, in November followed by killing of Shabir Ahmed Bhat on Eid has forced the BJP to re-draft its strategy to widen its base in the areas considered as separatists' strongholds. The biggest challenge before the BJP leadership is to revive the shattered confidence among the fear-stricken workers of the Kashmir valley. 'Of course, it's a severe setback to party's efforts to make inroads into the Valley by spreading its footprint beyond Srinagar city,' Narindra Singh, party's in-charge of Kashmir, told The Tribune. Narindra Singh, a former ABVP leader, was assigned the job to strengthen the organisational network in the Valley. 'Terrorists are selectively targeting young leaders whom the BJP has been grooming,' he said, adding that the anti-national forces were frustrated due to overwhelming response to party's 'Vistarak Yojana' in Kashmir. He said the party had devised a new strategy to strengthen its base in the Valley apart from protecting lives of its workers. Sources said senior party leaders, including national vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna, rushed to Pulwama after Shabir's killing to boost morale of party workers. Like other parts of the country, the BJP had launched the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Vistarak Yojana in J&K in 2016 to educate masses about the policies of the Central government. Initially, 2,260 'vistaraks' were enrolled. Of these, nearly 500 were Muslims youth, including some women, from the Valley. After dedicating tenures between 15 days to six months as BJP's 'full-timers' in different parts of J&K, they had started normal political activities in their respective areas. But some activists volunteered to work as 'vistaraks' till the next Assembly polls. 'As of now we have over 25 active 'vistaraks' working in different parts of the Valley, including south Kashmir - the hotbed of separatism and militancy,' said Pawan Sharma, in-charge of 'Vistarak Yojana' in J&K. He said lives of these workers were under threat as militants had started targeted killings. * Shabir Ahmed Bhat was a 'vistarak' of the BJP. He was assigned the job to strengthen the booth-level organisational structure in the Pulwama Assembly segment * 'Vistaraks' are full-timers of the party working at the grassroots level to educate people about BJP's policies and programmes · Although BJP had failed to get respectable votes from Kashmir during 2014 assembly polls, party is hoping to open its account in Valley in next election with the help of these 'Vistaraks'. · Over 70 'Vistaraks' have already been deputed in different parts of the state- ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Recently party leader Ram Madhav had handed over bikes and electronic gadgets to these 'Vistarkas'.