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Former NC Mushtaq Ahmad Shah Bukhari joins BJP in Jammu

Bukhari, a two-time former MLA from Surankote in Poonch district, had resigned from the National Conference in February 2022 after an argument with party president Farooq Abdullah over granting Scheduled Tribe status to Pahari-speaking people.
Last Updated : 15 February 2024, 16:43 IST

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Jammu: In a major boost to the BJP ahead of parliamentary elections, former Jammu and Kashmir minister and prominent Pahari leader Mushtaq Ahmad Shah Bukhari joined the party here on Thursday.

Bukhari, a two-time former MLA from Surankote in Poonch district, had resigned from the National Conference in February 2022 after an argument with party president Farooq Abdullah over granting Scheduled Tribe status to Pahari-speaking people.

Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina, along with other party leaders, welcomed Bukhari and hundreds of his supporters, including former bureaucrat G M Khuwaja and retired senior superintendent of police Shabir Geelani, into the party fold at the party headquarters here.

'I have kept my promise of joining a party which fulfils our long-pending demand of ST status. I am thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Raina for doing justice with Paharis who have struggled for 40 long years for the ST status,' Bukhari told reporters.

The BJP-led central government recently added four communities -- Gadda Brahmin, Koli, Paddari Tribe and Pahari Ethnic group -- to the list of Scheduled Tribes in Jammu and Kashmir.

After resigning from the NC, the former minister had said his statement at a function that “we will not hesitate in supporting any party which will help the community in achieving its demand of ST status did not go down well with the NC leadership and I was asked for an explanation.' He claimed that he had a 'heated argument' with Abdullah over the issue and submitted his resignation from the basic membership of the party after walking out of the meeting.

Raina said, 'Bukhari is not only a political stalwart but a spiritual personality having a lot of influence on people (of his community) in both Jammu and Kashmir. His joining BJP will further strengthen the party at the grassroots level.' He claimed a wave in Jammu and Kashmir in favour of the BJP and the prime minister who had provided justice to all sections of society who were deprived of their rights for the past 70 years.

"In the coming days, you will see more political stalwarts joining BJP and there will be only one party left in Jammu and Kashmir,' he said, adding that the lotus -- the BJP's poll symbol -- will bloom not only in Dal Lake but in the entire landscape in Kashmir.

Lok Sabha elections are due in April-May.

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Published 15 February 2024, 16:43 IST

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