Devinder Rana, Surjit Slathia join BJP amid growing voices of Jammu’s ‘neglect’ by successive govts

‘Jammu has the right to have a political narrative for J-K; a political narrative must start from Jammu for the entire union territory to strengthen its ethos and culture,’ says Rana, proponent of ‘Jammu declaration’

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11

A day after resigning from the National Conference, Devender Rana, the former head of its Jammu division, on Monday joined the BJP along with party colleague Surjit Singh Slathia in presence of top BJP leadership, including brother Jitendra Singh—a Union minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet.

The move coincides with the BJP’s attempts to galvanise support for a Hindu CM and growing voices over Jammu being “neglected” by consecutive governments in the favour of the Kashmir Valley.

Rana has been advocating for “Jammu declaration”, a joint declaration of several political, social and business organisations, demanding to safeguards the rights of the people of Jammu and also restoration of statehood for the region and not for the whole Jammu and Kashmir.

The two former NC leaders were believed to be upset with its leadership’s objection to the “Jammu Declaration”. Meanwhile, the NC leadership was also said to be upset over the “parallel declaration” to the Gupkar Declaration signed to bring back the now abrogated Section 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.

Joining the saffron party, Rana said time has come for Jammu to have a voice. “The Jammu region has suffered hugely. A political narrative must start from Jammu for the entire union territory to strengthen its ethos and culture,” he said.

“Jammu has the right to have a political narrative for J&K. After all the state was carved out by the Dogras…Maharaja Gulab Singh carved out the state. It will be my endeavour to work to create a narrative and place for Jammu in Jammu and Kashmir and a secular ethos. Jammu declaration will defeat proponents of the Dixon Plan by maintaining religious-regional unity and singular entity of Jammu and Kashmir. It will come with a roadmap to defeat the votaries of Dixon Plan who want to divide Jammu region on the basis of religion”, he said

The two senior NC leaders resigned on Sunday, the first major split within the party in the Jammu province since the Centre ended special constitutional position in 2019.

Sources say the BJP is galvanising its support for a Hindu Chief Minister from the Jammu province whenever the next Assembly elections are held. Notably, the party is also concerned over the traction newbie Ikkjutt has been drawing over its promise to fight the next assembly elections on the plank of “statehood for Jammu”.

Rana and Slathia joined the BJP at its headquarters in the presence of Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Hardeep Singh Puri and Jitendra Singh. Rana, a former MLA and the younger brother of Union minister Jitendra Singh, has also served as a political adviser to NC leader Omar Abdullah.

BJP general secretary in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir Tarun Chugh and its Jammu and Kashmir unit chief Ravinder Raina welcomed them in the party.

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