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Win for democracy & development, says Shahnawaz Hussain who helped BJP open account in Kashmir

Shahnawaz Hussain camped in Kashmir for 33 days to oversee BJP’s campaign for the J&K DDC polls, in which it won three seats in the Valley for the first time.

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New Delhi: A day after the results of the Jammu and Kashmir District Development Polls were declared, dozens of BJP leaders led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah have hailed its seat count of 75 as a “victory for democracy”.

The BJP finished as the single largest party in the elections to 280 seats across Jammu and Kashmir, bagging more than 38 per cent of the votes, even though the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, a conglomerate of Kashmiri and national parties, won the maximum number of seats as an entity.

The BJP even opened its account in the Kashmir Valley for the first time, winning three seats. The party’s spokesperson and former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain, who was stationed in Srinagar for over a month to help its electoral fortunes, called it a victory of ‘loktantra’ (democracy) over ‘gun-tantra’ (culture of bullets and guns). He also said the BJP’s performance also gives out another message — that people have rejected separatist forces and those who don’t respect the national flag.

“The wins in the Valley are not symbolic — the larger message is that people are fed up of separatist forces. This is a verdict against those who instigate people. It is a victory of the ballot over the bullet, and a clear message that people want peace and development,” Shahnawaz Hussain told ThePrint in an interview.

Hussain pointed out that in its victory on one seat in Srinagar, the BJP has received more votes than the Peoples Democratic Party — its former ally in the erstwhile J&K government, and one of the constituents of the Gupkar alliance.

“Earlier, we used to get 3-4 per cent votes in the Valley; now we have reached 15 per cent. Overall, our vote share across J&K has been 38 per cent, whereas the Gupkar alliance’s combined vote share is around 32 per cent. Change is at the door. It’s time everyone understands the undercurrent in J&K,” he said.


Also read: Gupkar Alliance wins big in J&K DDC polls but BJP is single-largest party


Long stay in the Valley

Shahnawaz Hussain was especially deputed by BJP president J.P. Nadda to head the campaign in the Kashmir Valley, while Anurag Thakur and Tarun Chugh campaigned in the Jammu region.

Hussain, a Sunni Muslim like a majority of people in the Valley, camped in Kashmir for 33 days at a stretch, and addressed more than 30 rallies. Another senior leader and Union minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a Shia Muslim, campaigned in Shia-dominated seats, one of which the BJP ended up winning in Srinagar.

Another reason for Hussain’s connection to the Valley was the fact that he had held the civil aviation portfolio under the Vajpayee government, and had declared the Kashmir airport as an international airport and started a direct flight to Saudi Arabia for Hajj.

“Did anyone think a Muslim-majority area will vote for the BJP? It’s happened because people have seen the development work of Narendra Modi,” Hussain said.

“We won on three seats and were second on five seats, where we lost by three votes to nine votes. This is historic — earlier, people said we are a Hindu party, but we have shown we are nationalists. There was a fight between those who want to carry the Indian flag and those who don’t,” he continued.

During his campaign in the Valley, Shahnawaz Hussain held two dozen meetings with party workers, but also with the shikara owners’ union, tourism union, apple growers, traders and intellectuals. He organised a ‘Tiranga boat run’ in Srinagar’s Dal Lake too.

Soli Yusuf, Kashmir BJP spokesperson said before addressing meetings, Hussain would ask about the local attire (cap and pheran) used in that particular region, because he wanted to look like an “aam (common) Kashmiri”. His speeches were in Urdu, so people would connect to him.

“He used to wake up in the morning, and after namaaz, he would start campaigning, meeting with workers, deputing workers for rallies, discussing the booth-level strategy etc,” Yusuf said.


Also read: Why DDC election in Kashmir is the report card BJP is waiting for


Victory for Centre’s narrative and start of democratic process 

Hussain said another message in the DDC poll results was that people voted in large numbers without any fear, and the “elections took place without any malpractice”.

“People’s participation in three-tier democracy is a clear message to Pakistan that they don’t believe in bullets, but they believe in the Indian Constitution and worship the Indian flag,” he underlined.

“I hoisted the flag at many places, including Mehbooba Mufti’s constituency (she was MP for Anantnag from 2014 to 2018). We took out a huge rally in her constituency to show the Indian flag is immortal and people have no faith in her rhetoric,” he said.

“It’s a win for the Centre’s narrative because after the abrogation of Article 370, our first priority was the start of a democratic process. We have compelled Gupkar to fight elections; even though they were not inclined to fight, they united to fight and won many seats. It is good they have now realised they were isolated and came to fight,” Hussain continued.

“Ultimately, this is a victory for the Centre’s policy for restoration of peace and democratic process in J&K.”

Hussain stressed that the BJP campaigned on the agenda of development, whereas in earlier elections, “parties had fought on separatist agenda, stone pelting and Burhan Wani (the Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander who was killed in an encounter)”.

“This is the first election where people have voted on a developmental narrative; this can be a new start for Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, curfews would be imposed and people would boycott elections, but this time, people have shown they want development and they have faith in Narendra Modi’s leadership,” Hussain said.

“The results have shown we are moving in the right direction. Many Independents who have won are our supporters. This is a big moment for the BJP,” he added.


Also read: Congress puts up dismal show in J&K DDC polls, says could now support Gupkar alliance


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I am a big fan of Shahnawaz Hussain. This gem from Bihar deserves higher position and more responsibility in the BJP.

  2. Congrats BJP Party and Mr. Shahnawaz Hussain for helping his party candidates to open 3 accounts in Kashmir. Now Mr. Raja, Mr. Rather and Sweet Miss. Minha, please do some good development work in your area, which will ensure BJP Raj in entire J & K in next Assembly and Parliament election. Wish, one of you become Chief Minister….. Author and Journalist Satyabrata Biswas from Mumbai.

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