Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir from September 30 where he is planned to pay obeisance to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, address two rallies and review developmental activities, party leaders said on Saturday.
J-K BJP general secretary and former minister Sunil Sharma told a press conference here the visit should not be linked to yet-to-be announced assembly polls, even though a senior leader said on the condition of anonymity the "rallies will be the beginning of the BJP's election campaign".
Sharma told the media, "Election is the prerogative of the ECI (Election Commission of India) which is an autonomous institution and scheduling dates are up to them. The BJP is ready. This (Shah's visit) is a routine visit and linking it with polls is not right."
He said Shah will arrive at Jammu on September 30, address a rally in Rajouri (Jammu division) on October 1, and leave for Kashmir the same evening. He will address a rally in Baramulla town at 11 am on October 2.
Shah will pay obeisance at the revered shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi on October 1 before addressing the rally, said the leader quoted above on the condition of anonymity. Talking about the rallies, Sharma said there are many expectations and hopes of people across Kashmir from the BJP and the Central government.
"Every person has faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. To give that belief a shape, to fulfil those expectations, and to assess the developmental activities of the UT's LG administration, the Union Minister will arrive in J-K on September 30," he said.
He said people from across Kashmir, especially north Kashmir, will attend the rally. "People from south Kashmir will also attend it. Sharma said the Union minister will speak about various developmental activities undertaken by the Centre. "He will also speak about new steps taken by the Centre on the developmental front," Sharma added.
The Union Home minister's visit will be a big step to strengthen the belief of the people in the BJP and the Central Government, the BJP leader said. "It will be the Union home minister's direct dialogue with the people of Kashmir in the form of the rally," he added.
The BJP leader said there will be many other official engagements but refused to share the details. "But, as far as the party programmes are concerned, delegations from across party lines, or even business leaders, intellectuals, can meet him. Party activities will be discussed with senior leaders as well," he said.
Asked if Shah will lay the foundation stone for the proposed cancer hospital in Eidgah area of the city here, Sharma said according to the information the party has, there is a session on developmental activities."Perhaps, the foundation of the cancer hospital will also be laid and other developmental activities will take place," he said.
While the party officially said the visit was not linked to the polls, the BJP leader quoted above without being named said, "Home Minister Shah's visit to address two mega public rallies will be the beginning of the BJP's election campaign from the Muslim majority districts."
"Both Rajouri and Baramulla are home to a large population of Pahari-speaking people who have attached high hopes from the BJP for grant them scheduled tribe status," the leader told PTI. He said the home minister will directly speak to the Pahari community.
He also said that after his public rally at Rajouri -- the hometown of J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina -- the home minister will return to Jammu the same day (October 1) and inaugurate the Jammu-Akhnoor flyover along Jammu-Poonch national highway and several other projects.
He will chair a meeting of senior BJP leaders before leaving for Srinagar in the evening, the leader said. The ongoing Special Summary Revision of electoral roll in Union Territory is scheduled to end on November 25 with the publication of final voter list.
(With PTI Inputs)