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BJP deploys battery of union ministers, central leaders for J&K DDC poll campaigning

JAMMU: Several union ministers and BJP central leaders have hit the campaign trail in Jammu and Kashmir for the district development council (DDC) elections, highlighting issues of land encroachments, Gupkar alliance and scrapping of Article 370.

Jammu and Kashmir is holding DDC polls for the first time to elect 280 members in 20 districts. These are scheduled to begin in eight phases from November 28 along with by-elections for urban local body (ULB) and panchayat.

Amid the COVID-19 threat, few election meetings have been held in Jammu, Udhampur, Samba, Kupwara, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla areas.

BJP has deployed Union ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Jitendra Singh and Anurag Thakur besides national general secretary Tarun Chug and national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.

Naqvi addressed an election meeting in Kupwara on November 19 while Hussain visited Srinagar on Friday. Thakur has been on campaign trail in Jammu and Chug has addressed rallies in Samba and Kathua districts during the past few days.

According to the J&K BJP, other leaders expected to join the campaign are Smriti Irani, Krishan Pal Gujjar, Ramesh Pokhriyal ''Nishank'' and Rajya Sabha member Zafar Islam.

The BJP has made the issue of alleged land encroachments by former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and other leaders of the Gupkar alliance a major poll plank while reaching out to certain communities including Muslims and Gujjars.

Thakur on Wednesday accused the Gupkar alliance of being involved in unlawful activities of grabbing government land for setting up residences and their offices in Jammu and Kashmir. He demanded registration of a formal case against Farooq Abdullah for cheating, forgery and encroachment of public property.

Jitendra Singh said the new land law is not against the common man or the poor, but against the mafia members of politician-administration nexus who have been for over half a century, constructing huge mansions, bungalows and commercial complexes on unauthorised land.

The BJP has planned digital rallies and door-to-door campaigning as well as social media campaigns by employing around 800 IT people in most of the districts, a party leader said.

However, the opposition has accused the BJP of forcing them to keep their campaigning a low key affair due to lack of security.

"Security of our former MLA Hajir Rashid of Sopore was withdrawn. How can he campaign in such a high terror ridden area. It is a deliberate attempt to prevent us from campaigning," a Congress spokesperson told PTI.

He said that they have brought the matter to election authority but nothing has been done. "That is why our campaigning is very low key. This is the fate of other opposition parties too," he said.

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PTI