Karela Fry

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From lal salaam to lal chowk

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We are caught between a party whose profits cause national instability, and one which profits from national instability. The BJP started from Kolkata on its “Rashtriya Ekta Yatra”, which in the usual way that BJP has, means to promote exactly the opposite. The national situation is such that if the BJP just sat tight and kept harping on corruption and price rise, the next election would fall into the party’s lap. Instead they show themselves as hot-headed trouble-makers unable to behave as a mature political party.

The Hindu reports:

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met Home Minister P. Chidambaram to convey the state government’s assessment of the situation in view of BJP’s plan to hoist the tricolour in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area on Republic Day.

He hoped that the BJP would do nothing to precipitate the situation in the state through its proposed Ekta Yatra to Srinagar while making it clear that an appropriate decision would be taken on how to deal with it.

After the 40-minute meeting with Mr. Chidambaram, Mr. Abdullah said he had conveyed to the Home Minister the state government’s assessment of the situation vis—a—vis the BJP’s proposed yatra.

“I am not going into get into any specific as to what we are going to do. As I said time and again, we are hoping that nothing will be done to precipitate the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. As we come close to January 26, we will decide what we will do,” he told reporters here.

The BJP’s Rashtriya Ekta Yatra from Kolkata will culminate in Srinagar on January 26 with hoisting of the tricolour in Lal Chowk.

TOI added:

In the backdrop of the Bhartiya Janata Party’s ‘Ekta Rally’ followed by a flag hosting at Lal Chowk on Republic Day, a team of interlocutors on Wednesday said that we are living in a democratic setup and every citizen of India had the right to hoist a national flag anywhere across the country but one should keep in mind the peace and tranquility of the nation.

Dilip Padgaonkar, chief interlocutor, flanked by Ms Radha Kumar and M M Ansari told reporters at a press conference here that the exercise of flag hoisting must take place keeping in view the ongoing dialogue process, which should not be disturbed.

The BJP is not the only party which roils the waters in the hopes of better fishing. The Kashmiri seperatists are their brothers-in-arms, as IE reports:

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has called for a march towards Lal Chowk on January 26, where the BJP youth activists are scheduled to unfurl the national flag.

“On January 26, the people of Jammu and Kashmir should peacefully march towards the Lal Chowk,” JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik said. “The world will see whose flag will stand tall.” The statement came a day after BJP president Nitin Gadkari flagged off the ‘Rashtriya Ekta Yatra’ from Kolkata.

Jan 19, 2011

The Hindu reported:

The State BJP is also reportedly not in favour of the flag hoisting as it is likely to put the party in a difficult situation. A senior BJP leader said, “It was the decision of the central leadership of the party. Whether they go ahead with it or cancel it, it is their decision.”

Jan 22, 2011

HT reports:

BJP on Saturday claimed more than 50,000 youths will arrive in Jammu to proceed with the ‘Rashtriya Ekta Yatra’, which will culminate on Republic Day after hoisting of the tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. “More than 50,000 youth of the country are reaching Jammu on January 25 and would proceed to Kashmir to hoist the tricolour in the Valley and no force on earth can stop us from doing so,” state BJP President Shamsher Singh Manhas told reporters in Jammu on Saturday.

“Any misadventure envisaged by the state government would be thwarted and state BJP would see that tricolour unfurls at Lal Chowk,” he said.

Jan 23, 2011

This report from IE shows again that the BJP is incapable of a measured response:

The BJP expressed shock and disappointment over the statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing reservations over the call of the BJYM to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on January 26.

It accused the Prime Minister of “letting down the nation” by disapproving of it. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the Republic Day was not an occasion to score political points, to embarrass State and local administrations, to create situations that could lead to entirely avoidable problems, or to promote divisive agendas. “It is all the more important to observe maximum restraint, particularly in a sensitive State like Jammu & Kashmir,” he said.

The Prime Minister expressed the hope that all citizens and political parties would heed this call and will do nothing that will disturb peace and harmony, or detract in any way from the dignity of Republic Day. Sharply reacting to the Prime Minister’s statement, BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, “We are taken aback by the stand taken by the Prime Minister virtually siding with those, who are opposing hoisting the national flag and voicing anti-India sentiments. It is not only disappointing, but the Prime Minister has let down the nation by making statement, which is unbelievable. Instead of supporting a nationalist cause and crusade launched by the BJP, the Prime Minister has sadly preferred to disapprove of it.”

Jan 24, 2011

Responsible leaders across the spectrum recognize how divisive the flag march has the potential of becoming. The Hindu reports:

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s key ally the Janata Dal (United) on Monday pressed the saffron party to drop its flag hoisting plan in Srinagar on Republic Day given the kind of “tension” prevailing in the Valley and asserted that issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir were “sensitive”.

Bihar Chief Minister and top JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar said he did not support the Rashtriya Ekta Yatra to Kashmir Valley that is to culminate in the flag hoisting plan at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Wednesday.

“Given the kind of tension that is prevailing in the Valley, this yatra has no meaning and I don’t support this”, Mr. Kumar said when asked about his views on the BJP’s plan.

“Though it is an internal matter of the BJP, I am opposed to the plan. My party president has also been speaking about it,” Mr. Kumar told reporters in Patna.

In New Delhi, JD (U) president Sharad Yadav renewed his appeal to the BJP not to go ahead with the flag hoisting plan.

The BJP does not have a lunatic fringe. It is the lunatic fringe. The leader of the opposition in the Parliament, Sushma Swaraj, is in Jammu. ET reports:

In a bid to defuse tension, Home Minister P Chidambaram today spoke to BJP leader Arun Jaitley and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah after J-K authorities stopped BJP leaders at Jammu airport ahead of a planned hoisting of tricolour in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on Republic Day.

Chidambaram called Omar and took stock of the situation arising out of the arrival of Jaitley and party colleagues Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar at the Jammu airport and the decision of local authorities not to allow them to enter the city, sources said.

The Chief Minister told the Home Minister that the two top BJP leaders would not be allowed to attend a public rally in Jammu as part of the BJP’s controversial ‘Ekta Yatra’.

Jan 26, 2011

TOI reports:

Hundreds of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists led by senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar were arrested on Tuesday after they tried to smash through a three-tier security grid besides rings of concertina wires. They were attempting to enter Jammu to head for Srinagar and unfurl the tricolour at Lal Chowk on Republic Day.

“The police arrested 11 BJP MLAs and around 500 workers the moment they crossed the one-km long Ravi bridge at around 5pm,” said DIG Garib Dass.

Jaitley and Swaraj, who tweeted ‘Vande Mataram’ right through the day, told workers not to resort to violence and said although they were arrested, other party leaders in Jammu would leave for Srinagar to hoist the national flag.

“The Jammu & Kashmir government is preventing us from hoisting the flag. It should have provided us security. Instead, it’s providing security to the separatists and has got us arrested. The flag will be hoisted at Lal Chowk tomorrow,” promised Swaraj.

The Hindu wraps up this story:

The stormy Ekta Yatra of the BJP ended on Wednesday after the hoisting of the tricolour by its senior leaders at Kathua in the Jammu division.

Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir government released them after nightlong detention. They vowed to raise the issue in Parliament and called it the worst scenario after the Emergency.

Senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, Shanta Kumar and Anurag Thakur were released along with over 200 workers after which they organised a small function in Kathua and unfurled the tricolour.


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