STATE TIMES NEWS
Jammu: Nearly a week after joining the BJP, former legislator Devender Singh Rana Saturday said the ‘Jammu declaration’, which is yet to take shape, forms the basis of his “political agenda” and he is ready to sacrifice anything for the people of Jammu region.Rana also said he does not need to answer anyone or seek a certificate to prove his secular credentials. My people know me very well and I know them as well.“I am grateful to the people including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians who have come from different parts of Jammu and showered their love on me this should serve as a referendum for the Jammu declaration,” Rana, who quit the
National Conference on October 10, told reporters at his residence after he was accorded a grand welcome on his return from Delhi.Rana, younger brother of Union minister Jitendra Singh, had taken over the post of Provincial president of National Conference in 2011 after relinquishing his office as political advisor to the then chief minister Omar Abdullah. He along with senior party colleague and former minister S S Slathia joined BJP in the Delhi on Monday.“The Jammu declaration is my political agenda. Some people ask what the Jammu declaration is and for them, I want to say it is a concept which is developing and whose base has been set up. Like the Gupkar declaration (an amalgam of various mainstream parties including NC and PDP who came together to seek restoration of Article 370) which is also a concept and the contours of which will be completed with consultations of the people,” he said.“Jammu Declaration, a concept of Jammu, for Jammu and by Jammu, is a narrative from here for inclusive Jammu and Kashmir to achieve the objective of socio-economic, political and developmental parity between all the regions and sub-regions with no region and no section, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, nurturing feeling of deprivation or discrimination, domination or subjugation”, Rana said, adding that the unprecedented affection and enthusiasm demonstrated by the people is actually endorsement of the Jammu Declaration.Rana, flanked by Surjeet Singh Slathia, said they will stand for the Jammu cause, come what may. For this purpose a concept has emerged, which seeks fair play in governance, funds distribution, jobs and other resources with a tag to equitable opportunities to all and appeasement to none. He vowed to pursue this agenda religiously as the ownership of the concept goes to the people of Jammu, he added.“I have been, am and would serve the people as their servant and those knowing me can vouch for it on the basis of my service to the people”, emotionally overtaken Rana said amid chants of ‘Jammu, Jammu, Jammu, Jammu’, adding that the land of warriors has to retrieve its pristine glory. This can’t be achieved by an individual but a collective and united effort by people of all shades and walks of life would be needed. He said by Jammu he always means Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri, Udhampur, Ramban and all other areas. Jammu’s assimilative ethos encompasses the entire Jammu and Kashmir, its people, its ethos and its glory, he maintained.Addressing the rally, Surjeet Singh Slathia expressed his gratitude to the people for bestowing them a lot of affection, saying this speaks of their yearning to see Jammu flourishing economically, socially and politically.Slathia said the support of the people will encourage them to work for them single mindedly with a mission to make Jammu and Kashmir a better place to live in.The BJP leader said his character will prove his credentials. “I do not need to answer anyone or seek a certificate from anyone. My people know me very well and I know them as well.”Rana said he is ready to make any sacrifice for the people of Jammu region.“The challenges and opportunities in J&K are enormous. We will try to deal with the challenges and make full use of opportunities for the welfare of the entire Jammu and Kashmir and Jammu region in particular,” he said.Earlier, addressing his supporters who turned up in thousands and accorded him a rousing reception at the Jammu airport before accompanying him in a procession to his Gandhi Nagar residence, Rana said now the voice of J&K will come from Jammu which should get its rightful place .On January 30, Rana proposed the ‘Jammu declaration’, a charter to forge unity and reinforce trust between diverse communities and divergent regions of Jammu and Kashmir.The rally, comprising young and old, lined up outside the Jammu Airport, chanting slogans in favour of Devender Rana and Slathia, extending their unequivocal support. The horse, car and bike rally with riders in traditional costumes escorted the two leaders to Rana Residence in Green Belt Park. The leaders, atop a tastefully decorated van, kept waving at the crowds’ enroute. They were profusely garlanded and the supporters kept showering flower petals on them. The cultural ambassadors of various areas of the Jammu region kept dancing on drum beats as the enthusiasm ran high among the supporters.Traffic on the main road was suspended for over an hour around noon as the supporters of the two leaders waited with garlands.Among the supporters, many said that they were National Conference activists and supported the decision of Rana and Slathia.“He (Rana) has never distinguished people based on religion and we are with him whether he is in NC or BJP,” Sarpanch Makhan from Udhampur said.Choudhary Ali Mohammad, belonging to the Gujjar community, echoed Makhan and said they know Rana as a leader who doesn’t believe in the politics of religion and caste.“He is the most popular leader of Jammu province and a person capable of the post of the chief minister. We hope BJP will accommodate him as per his stature and project him as a chief ministerial candidate of the party in the upcoming polls, he said.Narinder Kumar Sharma backed the decision of the two leaders to join BJP and said the grand welcome accorded to Rana and Slathia should open the eyes of those who said their parting ways with the National Conference would have no impact on the party in the Jammu region.
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