Modi Pledges Development On Visit To Kashmir

13 August 2014
The Wall Street Journal
Sameer Yasir

Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the answer for troubles in the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir: Jobs. 'My solution to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir is development,' Mr. Modi told a cheering audience of thousands in Kargil on Tuesday. Mr. Modi promised jobs and infrastructure for the under-developed region, saying he would do 'everything possible for the development of Kargil.' Mr. Modi's election-campaign pledge of national economic revival helped his Bharatiya Janata Party win a landslide victory in parliamentary polls last spring. 'The BJP needs support from the Muslims of Kargil,' ahead of state elections in October, said Noor Mohammad Baba, former head of the department of political science at Kashmir University. 'Until now, its electoral chances seemed bleak.' The government has promised to spend 80 billion rupees on development in Jammu and Kashmir. Some of those funds would go to build a tunnel to connect Kargil with the rest of the country. Presently, the mountainous region of Ladakh, where Kargil is located, is inaccessible by road for six months of the year, because of snow. 'He is going to develop our area like never before. He promised jobs and roads, and when he says that, he means it,' said Taleeb Hussain, a resident of Kargil, who attended Mr. Modi's rally. Mr. Hussain said he and his family plan to vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections. Political observers feel Mr. Modi's BJP is trying to become a bigger player in state politics. To do that, it needs not just to win, but to win big. 'The BJP would need to win all four seats of Ladakh and a majority of seats in Jammu,' the winter capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, said Akash Raina, a political scientist based in Jammu, who has studied the growth of BJP in state politics. Sameer Yasir is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir. He tweets at @sameeryasir.