It was the second time in nine months that Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Jammu and Kashmir, amid renewed tensions between India and Pakistan. And it assumed vital importance as it was his first to the state after the BJP came to power for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir.
Although the borders were silent on Friday, only two days earlier a woman had been killed in Pakistani firing. Modi made no reference to the neighbour; instead, he underlined the strength of democracy by stating that no one in politics was untouchable.
PM Modi was in Jammu to attend the birth centenary celebrations of former MP and state’s finance minister Girdhari Lal Dogra, who was the father-in-law of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. Dogra Sahab, as he was fondly called, was not only a stalwart in the Congress, but was also one of the main political voices from Jammu. He has the distinction of presenting the state budget 26 times.
Last November, while Modi addressed an election rally in Udhampur, the day-long encounter at Arina along the international border had just ended, leaving 12 people, including five civilians, dead. Since bullets had been defeated by the ballot (a high turnout in the 2014 state elections), Modi remarked that terrorists were acting out of frustration, and that the state is an integral part of India.
The statement assumed significance in the backdrop of the BJP-PDP alliance in the state — with a politically-divergent PDP seen to be going soft on Pakistan. But chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said he wanted to implement Modi’s tagline — “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” — by bringing together Hindu-dominated Jammu and Muslim-dominated Kashmir.
The state government had expected a financial package of `70,000 crore for its two regions — Kashmir for the flood-affected and Jammu for the creation of an AIIMS. According to observers, as Modi did not want the focus to move from the prime reason behind his visit, he deliberately avoided making any announcements.