State BJP leaders also feel that acceding to PDP’s demand for the two ministers’ resignation has sent the wrong signal to its electorate in the Jammu region.
New Delhi: Apparently sensing that supporters of the BJP in the Jammu region are unhappy with the party giving in to alliance partner PDP in the Kathua rape-murder case, former Jammu and Kashmir minister Chaudhary Lal Singh is said to have decided to continue his “struggle” to get the investigation handed over to the CBI.
Singh, who was asked to resign by the BJP leadership last week after a nationwide outrage against his and another minister’s alleged support for the accused in the gruesome case, may undertake a yatra from Jammu to Kathua to build support among the people, it is learnt.
The yatra, sources said, was initially planned to begin Monday, but was postponed after reports came in about the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court.
“In all likelihood, the yatra will start Tuesday morning and culminate in Kathua in the evening. A massive protest rally is being planned in Kathua, where the demand for a fair probe by the CBI to ensure justice for the victim will be reiterated,” said a source.
Unhappy with the party
Singh, who represents the Basohli assembly constituency in Kathua district, had defended his participation in a protest organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of a CBI probe suggesting that he and another former minister – Chander Prakash Ganga – were deputed by the BJP leadership.
This, he had said, was done to “defuse the situation and restore normalcy”.
Not known to mince his words, Singh is learnt to have indicated to his supporters – he has a large support base in the Kathua area, especially among the Dogra-Rajput community — that he isn’t happy with the unwarranted action of the BJP high command forcing him to resign.
There is also talk of him joining hands with likeminded people to form a regional party in case the BJP doesn’t “restore his honour”. But with the BJP not expected to antagonise him for too long given his strong support base, this could just be speculation, sources said.
Playing into PDP’s hands
In fact, several of his supporters, and even those who don’t overtly support his outspoken style of politics, say the people of Jammu are already upset with the BJP for giving too much leeway to the PDP “for the sake of enjoying power”, and see Singh as the one who has been wronged.
“If Lal Singh and Ganga deserved to be shunted out for supporting the demand of the Hindu Ekta Manch for a CBI inquiry, why hasn’t Jitendra Singh (Udhampur-Doda MP and union minister of state in the PMO) also been made to resign? After all, he was among the first ones to support this demand. Why these double standards?” asked a senior state BJP leader.
There are many in the BJP who share Lal Singh’s belief that the party played into the hands of the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP, which is BJP’s partner in the state government. By doing this, some state leaders feel, the party has sent the wrong signal to its constituents.
“In the last assembly election, we won all our 25 seats from the Jammu region, including all seats in Kathua district. Now, we are being seen as playing second fiddle to the PDP. This will certainly hurt us,” said a BJP leader.
“Having said that, I must say we allowed the perception to build that we were actually supporting the alleged rapists and killers, by demanding a CBI investigation. The media had a big role in building that perception, but our inability to counter that forcefully was our mistake.”