It’s been a year since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A that reserves special power for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. On August 5, last year Home Minister Amit Shah announced the removal of both the articles and two Union Territories were carved out of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since then the political activity in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been halted. The people from the Kashmir valley were not very happy with the government’s decision of scrapping the articles. But still, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has strengthened its roots in the valley.
The BJP has made a strong base in Jammu and has got numerous victories in the Lok Sabha as well as the assembly elections. In 2014 assembly elections BJP won 25 seats in Jammu which brought them in a position to form a coalition government with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier in 2002 and 2008 BJP had won 1 and 10 seats in Jammu. But now with its stronghold in the valley, BJP is confident that it can form a government with a majority in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since March 2020, BJP members are busy raising awareness about the abrogation of Article 370 and the implementation of Domicile law that gives equal rights to west Pakistani Refugees, the Valmiki and Gorkha communities who are living in Jammu and Kashmir. In an interview, Ashok Koul, general secretary of BJP in Jammu and Kashmir said that the party besides holding internal elections to elect its president has formed district and constituency level teams to aware of the people of Jammu and Kashmir about their rights.
He said the party has also formed various Morchas at the Union territory level and district level for serving the youth, farmers, minorities, women, SCs, STs, and OBCs. “These morchas already existed in the Union territory before 5 August but we have simplified and enhanced them last year” said Koul.
The BJP leaders have taken full advantage of the detention of top leaders of other political parties. In the absence of opposition leaders, the members of BJP have shown Kashmiri people the possibilities of a better future.
Jammu and Kashmir BJP spokesman and Panchayat head Altaf Thakur said “No political party can arrest the leaders of other parties. It is the job of law enforcement bodies. We never wanted leaders of other political parties to remain jailed. We want them to do something good for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Adding further he said that any party that remained active in J&K after abrogation was only BJP. As a result of this, we have managed to gain in the members in the valley ranging from 4.5 lakhs to even 7 lakhs”.
He further said, “We have 14 municipal councils and 63 block development chairpersons in the valley. We are now the only main party left in J&K. Until 2019, we didn’t have even one representative in the valley but now we have 1,226 patches and Sarpanches in the valley”.
He further said that if the internet had not been shut down then, BJP would have gained more members. “We have focused on areas where we have less presence. In south Kashmir, we have gained at least 85,000 active members. Another leader added that BJP in Kashmir told their established networks to keep them informed about the issues such as infrastructure, development, health, and general governance, which would be later taken up by the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir” he said.
The Bharatiya Janta Party has been active on social media to gain more members. BJP is doing this to have a better part than last year. In J&K BJP currently has 4,000 members in its information technology cell to multiply its achievements and action plans. The head of IT and Social Media is a resident of Jammu named Jaidev Rajwal. Now the structure is like every district has a social media in-charge who reports to Jaidev.
The BJP has also set up an IT cell for its 7 Morchas and all the members of these IT cells report to Rajwal. Rajwal is responsible for looking at social media profiles of people who are considered as anti-nationals. Rajwal said that till August 2019 we had 4,000 WhatsApp groups but currently we have 7,000 groups where members and workers keep us updated about the ground situation. Besides WhatsApp, BJP has a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Pinka Malik an IT- cell member added that the team did not rest for a day after the abrogation of Article 370. According to the members of BJP since last year the party has gained up to 7 lakh members in Kashmir and it has strengthened its structure and social media presence in the valley.