In a significant turn of events poised to reshape the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the Lok Sabha Polls, prominent Pahari leaders are poised to make a strategic move by joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This development comes in the wake of the Union Government’s landmark decision to extend reservation benefits to the Pahari community under the Scheduled Tribe category, marking a pivotal moment in the community’s political journey and heralding new opportunities for representation.
Multiple sources within the BJP have confirmed to The Daily Guardian that discussions with top Pahari leaders have reached an advanced stage, with the possibility of leaders officially joining the party within the next 24 hours. “Some leaders are already in the National Capital, while others are en route. They are expected to formally join the party very soon as negotiations progress,” disclosed informed sources.
According to sources familiar with the ongoing negotiations, leaders from prominent regional parties such as the National Conference, Congress, and People’s Conference have initiated talks with the BJP, signaling a desire to align themselves with the party’s burgeoning influence in the region. “Among the key figures engaged in the final stages of negotiations are Former Jammu and Kashmir Minister and Senior NC Leader Mushtaq Bukahri, Former Legislature and Senior NC Leader Shenaz Ganaie, Senior NC Leader Rafiq Shah, Ex-Senior Police Officer and People’s Conference Leader Raja Aijaz Ali Khan, along with a senior Congress leader. This indicates a significant realignment of political forces in the Pahari region,” elaborated sources privy to the developments.
This pivotal development comes on the heels of Parliament’s recent passage of the bill granting Scheduled Tribe status to the Pahari community. The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order Amendment Bill, 2023, also includes the Gadda Brahman, Paddari Tribe, and Koli communities in the ST list of Jammu and Kashmir, further solidifying the community’s long-awaited recognition and paving the way for enhanced socio-political representation. The imminent entry of prominent Pahari leaders into the BJP fold underscores the evolving dynamics of Jammu and Kashmir politics, with the BJP poised to emerge as a formidable force in the region, bolstered by its commitment to inclusive governance and empowerment of marginalized communities.
As the political landscape continues to evolve, the strategic alliances forged in the aftermath of the reservation grant are expected to shape the trajectory of the upcoming elections and beyond.
Former Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader commented, “I am not aware of who will join, but I believe that after the ST status bill passed in Parliament, lakhs of Paharis who have been struggling for their rights for decades want to join BJP, and they should join.”
“I have already stated that whoever grants ST status to Paharis, who have been struggling for their rights for many years, I will join BJP. So, BJP has done it, and I will join BJP on the 15th of this month.” – Mushtaq Bukhari, Former Minister and Senior NC Leader said.
“Their departure hardly matters for the National Conference; they had distanced themselves long ago from party activities.” – Former Legislature and Senior Leader of the National Conference, Sheikh Bashir said.