Modi to begin Kashmir campaign with first rally in Doda on Nov 22

  • Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 17, 2014 01:34 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will open his Jammu and Kashmir election campaign soon after his return from abroad with a rally in Doda district on November 22.

However, the dates of his campaign programme in J-K are yet to be finalised. “Kashmir programme is very much on the table. We are finalising the dates,” BJP J&K spokesman Khalid Jehangir said.

The Doda district in the Jammu region has a Kashmiri speaking Muslim majority although Hindus make up 40% of the population.

BJP had won the Udhampur-Doda seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha with its candidate Jitendra Singh defeating Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad by more than 60,000 votes.

Unlike Doda, the two other Muslim-majority districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Jammu region are largely not Kashmiri.

They mostly belong to communities such as Gujjars and Bakerwals, Rajputs and other smaller ethnic groups and the predominant language in the area is Pahadi, a dialect of Punjabi.

This will be Modi’s fourth visit to J&K after taking over as the Prime Minister. He had flagged off a new train from Katra, the base for the Vaishno Devi shrine, on July 4. He then toured flood-hit areas of the state on September 8 and later spent Diwali in Srinagar on October 23.

Prior to Modi’s visit, BJP chief Amit Shah will release the party manifesto in Jammu on November 20 and also fine-tune the strategy for the coming polls with state leaders. The state is headed for five-phase polls beginning on November 25.

Apart from other issues, including the controversial Article 370, the BJP manifesto is likely to mention giving the Union territory status to Ladakh, a long-pending demand from the region.

Buoyed by its response from the Kashmir valley, the BJP has set up a war room in Srinagar, which will cater to media and its candidates.

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