Prime Minister Narendra Modi will spend his first Diwali as Prime Minister in Srinagar.
In what is seen as a gesture of support to flood victims in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said he would be in Srinagar on Diwali. Writing on Twitter, Modi said, “Will be in Srinagar on Diwali, October 23, and will spend the day with our sisters and brothers affected by the unfortunate floods.”
The move is likely to have a positive impact as Srinagar is trying to limp back to normalcy. This is the second such move by Modi after the devastating floods that killed 218 people and affected around a million in the Valley. According to government figures, the state has lost Rs 1 lakh crore in businesses, government infrastructure and residential houses.
The Prime Minister had rushed to the Valley on September 7, when the Jhelum breached its banks and its water submerged most of the Srinagar city. Calling the disaster a “national calamity”, the Prime Minister had assured people of the state that the “nation stands with them”. “I want to tell people of the region that we will do everything possible to get them out of this disaster,” he had said.
The Prime Minister had also offered an assistance of Rs 1,000 crore to the state government, in addition to Rs 1,100 crore already earmarked for the disaster. Modi had made this gesture earlier as well in 2001, when he, as Gujarat chief minister, had spent Diwali with the earthquake victims in Bhuj.
The step might have a positive impact as the state is likely to go in for the assembly elections by the end of this year. The BJP which managed a good show in the winter capital Jammu in the Lok Sabha elections and won three of the six assembly seats in the state, is working towards attaining a majority in the assembly elections. The flood-affected Kashmir Valley is important in the BJP’s Mission 44 as the party is keen to win at least five assembly seats which have a good percentage of migrant Pandit voters.
Modi’s gesture will also be important as the ruling National Conference (NC)-Congress coalition had fought the Lok Sabha banking on ‘Modi phobia’ in the Valley. The move, however, bore no fruit as the coalition had a no-show in the elections.