With the Lok Sabha polls drawing nearer, regional National Conference (NC) and PDP are trying their best to garner the support of the separatist camp in Kashmir for votes.
Days after Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti called her party workers the "real Mujahideen" (guerrilla fighting against non-Muslim forces), a NC leader Tuesday said his party men are the "real mujahideen as they are working hard to bring peace to Jammu and Kashmir".
"NC leaders and workers are working hard for the return of peace to Kashmir. Our workers are the real mujahideen," NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said while addressing a public gathering in northern Baramulla.
Last week, Mehbooba, while addressing an election rally in northern Kupwara district, said, "You don't hold stones or guns in your hands and yet you have provided relief to the people like no one could in the past 70 years. Every Kashmiri should feel proud of the PDP as every single worker of the party is an 'asli (real) mujahid'.”
She said the PDP was only the party which gave "relief to Kashmiris from POTA, task force, and set up universities and colleges".
A political analyst said that both the regional parties, whose main vote bank is the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, are trying to exploit the sentiments of the people for votes.
"PDP, since its inception in 1999, preached soft separatism for votes and it benefited immensely. However, after it entered into an alliance with the right-wing BJP in March 2015, it lost the connect with the pro-separatist elements. Now, after the BJP ditched the PDP in June 2018, the regional party is again trying to play the old card," he said.
However, the analyst said, the NC isn't ready to give open space to its arch-rival, and its leaders too have started to woo the pro-separatist camp.
"Only two days back, the NC's candidate for the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat raised pro-Pakistan slogans and today another senior leader has used the term 'mujahid' to counter the PDP. In coming days, this phraseology by both the regional parties will increase," he said.