Jind/Chandigarh: Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted on Friday that the scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was a “big milestone for the unity and integrity of the country and would ensure development of the state”.
Addressing his first rally after the Centre’s Kashmir move, Shah said the revocation of provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution would help develop Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. He said the Modi government scrapped the special status in 75 days, which the previous Congress-led governments could not do in 72 years because of their “vote-bank greed”.
“Abrogation of articles 370 and 35A is a big milestone for the unity and integrity of India. We had been saying that Kashmir is an integral part of India. But Article 370 was giving some sort of message that something is still incomplete,” he said.
Elections to the Haryana Assembly are due in two months. Shah expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would win more than 75 seats in the upcoming polls. “Last time I came, you gave me 47 seats. I have come again and I am sure we will cross the 75 (seats) mark,” he said the rally, adding that “mission 75” would be achieved at any cost.
He also lauded Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for the developmental works done by his government, especially in the areas of an improved sex ratio and making Haryana a kerosene-free state.
Taking on the Opposition parties in the state, Shah, who is also the BJP’s national president, said the Khattar government had put an end to corruption, casteism and regionalism. He said the state got Rs 58,000 crore from the Centre in the last five years, while the previous government could only provide Rs 22,000 crore.
The call for the gathering, titled Aastha rally, was given by former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Chaudhary Birender Singh. His son and Lok Sabha MP from Hisar, Brjiender Singh, was the convener of the event that among others was attended by Khattar and his cabinet ministers.
In praise of the former Congress MP, Shah said, “Chaudhary Birender Singh has merged into the BJP like sugar dissolves in milk.”
Birender Singh and Khattar have never been on the same page. By getting Shah to address the first poll rally from his home turf, the former Union steel minister has staged a coup of sorts in Haryana.
Last year, he had managed to bring Prime Minister Narender Modi to the Jat land earlier than scheduled to unveil the statue of peasant leader Sir Chhotu Ram at Garhi Sampla in Rohtak. Chaudhary Birender Singh is a grandson of Sir Chhotu Ram and is considered a tall Jat leader of Haryana.
In the 2014 assembly elections, Jat voters had remained loyal to their traditional parties — Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Congress. The BJP had come to power for the first time in the state in 2014 with the support of non-Jat voters.
During the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP performed exceptionally well and won all the 10 seats in the state. The party almost doubled its vote percentage from the 2014 general elections. In 2014, the saffron party had managed to get 34.84 per cent votes and seven seats, while this time, the vote share jumped to 58.02 per cent.
The Congress, which too drew a blank, however, witnessed an increase in its vote share. In 2014, it had won only the Rohtak seat with a total vote percentage of 22.99. In the 2019 polls, the Congress vote share increased to 28.42 per cent.
The BJP and Congress' gains had translated into the INLD's loss. The party that was seen as a front-runner in government formation only a year ago is today in shambles as its vote share dipped drastically to 1.89 per cent from 24.43 per cent five years ago when it had won two seats. The INLD’s missing voters — mainly Jats — had probably moved on to the BJP.
What was even more gratifying for Khattar was that the party secured a lead in 83 of the 90 Assembly segments in the state as the BJP seemed to have turned all the caste equations in the state in its favour.
While it further cemented its non-Jat base, Jat voters too sided with the saffron camp, a major concern for Jat-oriented parties like the Congress and INLD.
(With inputs from PTI)