At BJP rally on Dal, cadre recite Quran, Urdu poetry

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today held a first-of-its-kind rally at Char Chinari, a small island on the Dal Lake, as part of its efforts to gain foothold in the Kashmir valley.
The party cadre recited Quranic verses, read Urdu poetry and underscored the need to have a strong Muslim leadership in Kashmir while seeking support from a place where it has so far failed to make any electoral gains.
“Char Chinari has usually inspired poets but this is for the first time we have held a programme here and grown a lotus on the Dal Lake. We want to give the message of peace and development,” said BJP’s Srinagar district vice-president Molvi Tariq while pointing to the party flags hoisted on the island.
The public rally attended by several BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, saw a decent participation of residents of the Dal Lake. The area has a sizeable Shia population that BJP sees as a potential vote bank.
Though the BJP has claimed to have enrolled over 3.5 lakh members in the Valley, the assertion remains unverified. Despite hectic campaigning in the Assembly elections in 2014, only one of the 34 BJP candidates in the Valley managed to save his security deposit.
Member of Legislative Council Surinder Ambardar asserted that the BJP was committed to serving the Valley irrespective of the voters’ leanings
Referring to the revered Hazratbal shrine, Sufi shrine Makhdoom Sahib and the temple on Shankaracharya Hill visible from the island, he said the Valley had a secular nature that was in tune with the BJP’s approach. He also spoke of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on Independence Day when he called for “embracing all Kashmiris”.
BJP general secretary and in charge of Kashmir Affairs Narinder Singh said the party was here to remove the “separation (of Kashmir with the mainstream) that had been created by previous governments”.
He underscored the need to have a strong Muslim leadership in the Valley that would take forward Kashmir along with the country. “If you give us good panches and corporators, you will notice the change,” he said, seeking support for the next panchayat and municipal elections.