Gadkari declares open support to UT status demand for Ladakh

Sanjeev Pargal

BJP leader Nitin Gadkari addressing a mammoth rally at Polo Ground, Leh on Sunday.
BJP leader Nitin Gadkari addressing a mammoth rally at Polo Ground, Leh on Sunday.

JAMMU, May 4: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) former national president Nitin Gadkari today declared open support of the party for grant of Union Territory (UT) status to Ladakh and undo the “discrimination and injustice’’ meted out to mountain locked cold desert region by the State Governments after the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi comes to power at the Centre.
Addressing a mammoth ‘Ladakh Vijay Rally’ at Polo Ground in Leh this morning for BJP candidate and former MP Thupstan Chhewang, Gadkari launched a frontal attack on Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for their tirade against BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
In the rally, a six minutes recorded audio message of Modi was also played through loudspeaker in which the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate regretted that he couldn’t campaign in Leh during elections but said he has sent his veteran party leader Gadkari here.
In the message, Modi called upon the people of Ladakh to become the part of a strong Government at the Centre, which was committed to remove “discrimination and injustice’’ meted out to the hilly region by all successive State Governments.
“I urge brave and patriotic people of Ladakh to support the BJP at this juncture and promise them that I would personally visit Ladakh after the BJP forms Government at the Centre. Our Government will remove injustice with Ladakh,’’ Modi said in his message, which was heard with rapt attention by the people followed by thunderous applause.
Recalling that he had visited Kargil during 1998 Kargil war and later as Incharge BJP Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said he would make Ladakh region a “role model of development’’, which would generate employment opportunities for the local youth and promote tourism.
Declaring that the demand for UT status to Ladakh is “dream project’’ of the BJP, Gadkari, who headed the BJP for quite long time, declared that the BJP fully support the demand and would accord well deserved UT status to Ladakh when it comes to power at the Centre after the current general election.
“Ladakh genuinely deserves UT status as it has badly been discriminated in terms of development, employment and deprived of even basic facilities like ‘bijli, sadak paani’. Moreover, Ladakh is surrounded on one hand by China, which was repeatedly engaging in incursions in Leh while on the other Kargil is surrounded by Pakistan. In such a scenario, Ladakh deserved UT status for better management of affairs and development,’’ the BJP leader declared.
Asserting that Chinese incursions as well as presence of China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) in Gilgit and Baltistan posed a major threat to Ladakh, Gadkari declared that Gilgit and Baltistan remained integral part of India, which had illegally been held by Pakistan. Further, he said, Aksai Chin was illegally held by China.
He reiterated the India’s claim over these areas and called upon Pakistan to mend its ways by removing PLA from Gilgit and Baltistan. He said the BJP has taken the threats to Ladakh very seriously and would address all these issues when it comes to the power very soon.
Gadkari said it was during Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA Government at the Centre that a strong military mechanism was prepared to solve problems of Ladakh and make it ready to face any threats but “unfortunately all the measures initiated by the Vajpayee Government were shelved by the UPA Government and Ladakh was forced to backwardness’’.
Blaming National Conference and Congress for the plight of Ladakh region, the former national president of the BJP, who has contested Lok Sabha election from Nagpur, said Zojila tunnel project was conceived by the BJP Government but has not been completed so far. He declared that the BJP would complete the tunnel expeditiously to provide all weather road connectivity to Ladakh. He said the BJP would make Ladakh self sustained by giving it the UT status and packages of employment,  tourism and development.
Taking strong exception to the statement of Union Minister and NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah that those who voted for Modi should jump into the sea, Gadkari said Farooq was trying to save his “failed son’’ Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
“Omar has failed on all fronts. The father-son duo has given only misgovernance to Jammu and Kashmir. To hide their failures, they were indulging in baseless and meaningless statements,’’ he said.
He added that the people in India would wipe out Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in the current elections and Abdullah dynasty in Jammu and Kashmir.
Ridiculing the statement of Pakistan Army chief that Kashmir is “jugular vein’’ of Pakistan, Gadkari reminded Pakistan of four wars the country had with India including 1947, 1965, 1971 and Kargil in which Pakistan had to face humiliation. He declared that India is capable of unfurling tricolor even at Lahore.
“Like Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote route, the BJP would open Kargil-Askardu road, which is old silk route, so that divided people of the two sides could meet frequently and the business is also flourished,’’ he said.
Gadkari said the BJP Government would take up with China the opening of Ladakh route for holy Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, which would not only reduce distance of the yatra but would benefit Ladakh in a long way in development of tourism. He added that the BJP would take all initiatives to promote adventure and other tourism in Ladakh, which would go a long way in benefiting the people of mountainous region.
Gadkari assured the people of Ladakh that the BJP Government would create massive opportunities for employment of youths in Ladakh region and higher educational facilities for which the youth had to go outside the region. He announced that Boti language would be included in eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Gadkari also came down heavily on the demands like autonomy and self rule and said the BJP stands for abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. He declared that the BJP would win both seats of Jammu region and one seat of Ladakh.
BJP Incharge Jammu and Kashmir Avinash Rai Khanna, RP Singh, Thupstan Chhewang (Ladakh candidate), Dr Nirmal Singh, Ashok Koul, general secretary (organisation) Ravinder Raina, BJYM president, Farooq Khan, Sat Sharma, Munish Sharma, Tsering Dorjey, district Leh president and several other senior BJP leaders were present at the rally.
Chhewang said it was only BJP, which has all along stood for the cause of Ladakh and the people would reciprocate this time by electing the party leader to Lok Sabha.
“I would act as ‘Chowkidaar’’ of Ladakh just like Modi would be ‘Chowkidaar’ of India,’’ Chhewang said in his speech.