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BJP believes in politics of ballot to strengthen democracy in J&K: Anurag Thakur

JAMMU: The BJP is doing the politics of ballot to strengthen democracy in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said as he lashed out at the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) and accused it of playing the "politics of bullets" to scare the people in the Union Territory.

He also asserted that Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution, which were nullified by the BJP-led government at the Centre in August last year, had been "buried forever and cannot be restored".

The PAGD was formed by seven mainstream parties, including the National Conference and the PDP, to press for the restoration of the pre-August 5, 2019 position to Jammu and Kashmir. The alliance is headed by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and PDP's Mehbooba Mufti is its vice-chairperson.

Without naming anyone, Thakur said, "There are some who are seeking support of China, some are speaking the language of Pakistan and also insulting the national flag.

"They are talking about the restoration of Article 370 with the support of China and Pakistan, the same Article with which they used to loot J&K for the past seven decades to benefit their families and deprived people of the benefits of development."

Thakur, who is the Minister of State for Finance and BJP's J&K District Development Council (DDC) election in-charge, was speaking to reporters here.

In an apparent reference to the remarks of Mehbooba Mufti that BJP's policies are driving the youth in the Valley towards militancy, he said, "They are saying that if it (Article 370) was not restored, the youth will pick up guns. We are doing the politics of the ballot to strengthen democracy but they, on the other hand, are pursuing the politics of bullets to scare the public."

"We believe in democracy but they believe in bullets and explosives. That is the difference. We are trying to strengthen democracy, maintained peace after the abrogation of Article 370 and ensured development by providing funds.

"We conducted Panchayat, Block Development Council and Urban Local Bodies elections and are now holding DDC elections which they opposed all along," Thakur said, adding the intention is to fast forward the development activities through elected representatives at the grass roots level.

Asked about the challenge posed by the PAGD by joining the electoral fray, he said, "Gupkar gang is already scattered because they are a group of people with different ideologies. Their intention is not clean, their policy not clear and they are also without a leader.

"This is a group of cheats, a 'thagbandhan' who have looted J&K in the past and have come together again to loot it again," he said.

Thakur said Article 370 and Article 35A had been "buried forever" and cannot return "even if anyone takes birth 10 times" because both the Houses of Parliament have passed the Reorganisation Bill and the people in J&K had "welcomed" it.

In response to another question regarding the continued suspension of 4G mobile Internet facility in Jammu and 17 other districts, he said, "The service had already been restored in two districts and when there is a clearance from the security agencies, it will be restored in other districts as well."

"Every election is important for us," he said when asked for his comment on star campaigners from his party campaigning for the party candidates.

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PTI