“I hope and pray that the holy fasting month of Ramazan brings peace for the entire state…. We believe in ‘Hubbul Wattani’ (love for country), which was preached by Prophet Muhammad… We believe in this poem (of Allama Iqbal) that we recite in schools…. It teaches us to love and help the poor and the weak.”— Ravinder Raina, BJP president, J&K
Usually known for his outspoken attitude and being a “hardcore RSS worker”, Ravinder Raina, newly nominated BJP state president, on Wednesday invoked Islamic teachings and quoted poetry of Allama Iqbal during his maiden address to party workers.
On his first visit to the Valley after the nomination, Raina dispelled notion that the BJP was anti-Muslim as part of the party’s efforts to reach out to the people of the Valley.
“I hope and pray that the holy fasting month of Ramazan brings peace for the entire state…. We believe in ‘Hubbul Wattani’ (love for country), which was preached by Prophet Muhammad… We believe in this poem (of Allama Iqbal) that we recite in schools…. It teaches us to love and help the poor and the weak,” Raina said, while addressing party leaders and workers at the Jawahar Nagar office, where he received a rousing reception.
He blamed the Congress for creating a notion that the BJP was anti-Muslim. “Don’t know why people were scared of the BJP. People were being made to be feel afraid of the BJP by the Congress. They were told if the BJP comes to power, your life will be difficult. But we want peace and brotherhood. Kashmir is the crown of India and we want the lotus to bloom here,” Raina said.
Though the BJP says it has enrolled over 3.5 lakh members in the Valley, the claims are yet to be tested. Despite hectic campaigning in the 2014 Assembly elections, only one out of 34 BJP candidates in the Valley had managed to save his security deposit.
Sat Sharma, former BJP state president who is now the Urban and Housing Development Minister, also said the time had come for the party to open its account in the Valley.
“There was a time when our activities (in Kashmir) did not get much coverage, but now when I go to different parts, I see people are with the BJP….We haven’t yet opened the account, but people from all walks, including minorities, are joining us. This time we have a chance and I see that people are with the BJP,” he said.
Ashok Koul, BJP general secretary (organisation), said Raina was a young and dynamic leader, who would work towards strengthening the workers’ base of the BJP across the state.