Sajjad Lone-PM meet irks Congress
NEW DELHI : Days ahead of the first phase of the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, former separatist leader and People’s Conference chief Sajjad Gani Lone on Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which the Congress said was a sign of the BJP “joining hands with separatists for political gains.”
BJP leader Arun Jaitley rubbished the allegation saying even National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party leaders had met the Prime Minister. Mr. Lone denied the meeting was political and evaded questions on speculation of a tie-up with the BJP.
I need not take lessons from NC, PDP: Lone
“I don’t know how the Congress is better than the National Conference or the PDP. I don’t adhere to left or right-wing politics. Mr. Modi is talking about development of the entire State and as a Kashmiri I want that,” said the former separatist leader and People’s Conference chief Sajjad Gani Lone, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, when asked about his growing closeness with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Mr. Lone said he had come with a “list of demands, including smart city status for Srinagar” and the need for more investment in the State to compensate for losses in the recent floods. He said Mr. Modi showed him respect, adding that he “need not take lessons from the NC or the PDP.”The meeting assumes political significance as the BJP has declared Mission-44 in J&K on the lines of Mission-272 during the Lok Sabha poll. The party has opened channels with several Kashmiri politicians, including Mr. Lone, to garner support.
Mr. Lone has been in touch with BJP leaders J.P. Nadda and Ram Madhav and publicly praised Mr. Modi. Observers pointed out that the BJP in Kashmir was bereft of any well-known face and Mr. Lone appears to be making efforts to fill that space.