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DDC polls | BJP takes poll campaign to Geelani’s bastion Sopore, promises development

Tonga rally organized for the first time by the BJP leaders as part of the DDC elections campaigning, in Sopore on Wednesday, 02/12/2020   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Buoyed by increasing imprints in Kashmir, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday took its poll campaign rally in ‘tongas’ (horse-driven carriages) in north Kashmir’s Sopore, hometown of ex-Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani and a bastion of now-banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).

Raising slogans like “Narendra Modi bhai, zindabad” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, the ‘tonga’ rally was led by J&K affairs in-charge Vibodh Gupta in the militancy-infested Mabugh area, with many women supporters.

The campaign was for Fareeda Khan, a local candidate fielded by the BJP, for the ongoing District Development Council (DDC) polls.

“A DDC constituency of Sopore recorded 18% polling [on Tuesday]. It was once in the throes of terrorism and separatism. However, the turnout is a message from people that they want peace and brotherhood. Dilution of Article 35(A) and Article 370 have opened up the atmosphere in Kashmir and people are coming out to vote,” Mr. Gupta said.

Also read: 48.6% turnout in J&K despite the cold

He described the rally was also as message — “don’t destroy Kashmir” — to Pakistan, ISI, Hurriyat and the the Gupkar alliance.

“The Sopore Mandi should have been exporting apples to London and as far as Kerala. Unfortunately, it was consumed by terrorism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will set up an international mandi in Sopore. People should vote for Mr. Modi’s mission and vision,” Mr. Gupta said.

The rally comes as the BJP is fast emerging as a significant political player taking on the seven-party Gupkar alliance and dominating many municipalities and panchayats since the 2018 polls, especially in central and south Kashmir.

The rally was guarded by bullet-proof vehicles and heavily armed soldiers. No other political party, like the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, has organised any such political rally in Sopore so far.

Several constituencies of Sopore witnessed polls on Tuesday. In fact, Mr. Geelani’s hometown Duroo village recorded just 0.09% voting. However, in a departure from the past, adjacent constituencies like Zaingeer saw significant numbers of voters turning up at the polling booths, with many constituencies registering over 15% voting.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 6:49:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ddc-polls-bjp-takes-poll-campaign-to-geelanis-bastion-sopore-promises-development/article33233592.ece

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