Against the backdrop of parties in Kashmir praising the previous NDA government's initiatives in the Valley, Narendra Modi today promised to carry forward the policies of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to change the "fate" of Kashmir.
"The path shown by Vajpayee -- humanity, democracy and Kashmiriyat -- we will carry forward," the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate said addressing the first "Bharat Vijay Rally" at Hira Nagar near here.
He said that if Vajpayee government had got another five years, it would have changed the face of Kashmir and problems would have ended.
His comments assume significance as mainstream political parties of the state including ruling National Conference and opposition PDP as well as moderate separatist -- Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq -- have, of late, been praising the Vajpayee government for its initiatives relating to Kashmir.
Modi, who paid obeisance at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine ahead of his address, neither made any reference to Article 370 this time nor replied to the challenge thrown by state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for discussing it.
This was the second rally being addressed by Modi in Jammu region. He had addressed a rally on December one last year during which he had stirred a controversy by demanding a dialogue on Article 370 which guarantees a special status to the state.
However, after he was challenged by state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for a discussion on Article 370, both BJP as well as Modi never raked up the issue again.
During today's rally, retired IPS officer Farooq Khan, who has been in the forefront of anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir, joined BJP.