Aiming to form its own government in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in the coming assembly elections, BJP has successfully roped in the two tallest leaders of the National Conference namely Devender Singh Rana and Surjeet Singh Slathia.
Both Rana and Slathia, the former law-makers of the erstwhile state of J&K, have joined the BJP on October 11 in New Delhi in the presence of central leaders of the party.
Sources in the BJP said that Devender Singh Rana, a former aide of Omar Abdullah, is likely to get a bigger responsibility in the party ahead of coming assembly elections.
BJP to make Rana as Himanta Biswa Sarma of J&K
Devender Singh Rana, the former aide of Omar Abdullah is known for his organizational skill and his network in all the 10 districts of Jammu province, especially in the Muslim-dominated twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri.
"We have no problem in Hindu majority assembly seats of Jammu province but the biggest task before the party is to win Muslim dominated constituencies, especially in Poonch and Rajouri", a senior BJP leader told International Business Times.
Wishing anonymity, the leader said that the influence of Devender Singh Rana would be utilized to make inroads in Muslim-dominated pockets of Jammu province. "Rana, who was provincial president of National Conference before joining BJP, has a strong network in these districts," a source said and added that BJP high command has decided to make Rana as Himante Biswas Sarma of J&K by bringing 'influential' leaders of other parties in BJP before elections.
Sarma, who quit Congress to join BJP on August 23, 2015, has played an important role in the victories of BJP in successive assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Assam in general and North East in particular.
The BJP had appointed Sarma as the convener of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a regional sub-group of the federal National Democratic Alliance (NDA), aimed at increasing the party's political strength in North-East India.
Hightime to remove misconception about BJP: Rana
In his maiden address at the BJP office in Jammu, Devender Singh Rana pointed out that some misconceptions have been created about the party among some sections of society. He emphasized removing these misconceptions to spread the party.
"I have been, am, and would serve the people as their servant and those knowing me can vouch for it based on my service to the people," Rana said, 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.
Rana quits NC on Oct 10, joins BJP next day
Devender Rana and Surjit Singh Slathia have resigned from National Conference on October 10. The duo joined the BJP on next morning in the presence of senior party leaders at party headquarters in Delhi.
Rana was the most prominent face of the National Conference in the Jammu region. He is the younger brother of Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh.
The exit of Rana and Slathia is considered a major setback to the National Conference as both had a strong influence in the assembly segments represented by them in the past. Rana managed to win the Nagrota assembly segment in the 2014 state polls despite BJP sweeping the Dogra heartland of Jammu.