The Prime Minister on Saturday stepped into the controversy over the BJP’s plan to hoist the national flag in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on Republic Day. Without naming the BJP, he said the day shouldn’t be used to score political points and promote divisive agendas.
"It is not an occasion to score political points, to embarrass state and local administrations, to create situations that could lead to entirely avoidable problems, or to promote divisive agendas,” the Prime Minister said in a statement in a reference to the BJP’s Kashmir Ekta Yatra (Unity March). He hoped “our citizens and political parties will heed this call”. He urged “maximum restraint” in the “sensitive state”.
The BJP’s assurance that it would avoid confrontation is, in fact, being seen as a hint by the party that its activists would not go ahead if stopped by the police.
BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, “We are taken aback by the stand taken by the Prime Minister virtually siding with those who are opposing hoisting the national flag and voicing anti-India sentiments.”
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has vowed to foil the BJP’s march and crack down on its workers.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari cast off any security worry. “The march will be completely peaceful. The Congress and the National Conference (Kashmir’s ruling party) should join us,” he said in a separate statement.
The BJP’s youth wing is on its way from West Bengal to Jammu and Kashmir to unfurl the tricolour at Lal Chowk.
The BJP says hoisting the flag is a right of every Indian. The march is likely to disturb the fragile peace in the Valley.