In Srinagar, Ram Madhav pushes for third front

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, during his two-day visit to Kashmir, commended newly elected Srinagar mayor Junaid Azim Mattu and held a meeting with Peoples Conference (PC) chief Sajad Lone, pushing for a third front ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls in the State.

Emerging as permanent partners, the PC and BJP leaders uploaded pictures on social media of their meetings with Mayor Mattu, PC’s councillors and Mr. Lone. “I interacted with newly-elected councillors of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). It’s a team of youngsters led by young Mayor Mattu from Sajjad Lone’s PC. He was supported by the BJP and independents. He defeated a candidate supported by the Congress, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC),” said Mr. Madhav.

Former NC spokesman Mattu, 34, became Srinagar’s Mayor this week in closely contested polls between the Congress and the PC-BJP alliance. Mr. Mattu won 40 wards out of 74, while the Congress managed just 26 with its own members resorting to cross-voting.

Mr. Mattu has graduated in Business and Finance from Michigan State University and returned to J&K in 2009. He joined the National Conference as spokesman and quit it recently to contest the polls. “The two parties discussed various plans to usher Srinagar into an era of development,” said Mr. Mattu.

Madhav’s meeting comes as a shot in the arm of PC ahead of the Assembly polls. The PC has two MLAs from north Kashmir as of now, including Mr. Lone representing Handwara constituency. The party plans to field more candidates from Srinagar for the first time, in a bid to bring to the fore a third front within the Kashmir valley.

“We managed to penetrate the base of the electorate in Srinagar through diligence. We will build on this. This will help our prospects in the next polls. PC will field candidates from Srinagar too next time,” Mayor Mattu told The Hindu after winning the mayoral elections.

Meanwhile, Mr. Madhav, who sought feedback from party leaders in Srinagar for the upcoming panchayat polls, flew back to Delhi on Friday.

Boycott call

Meanwhile, JKLF chief Yasin Malik on Friday called for a boycott of panchayat elections, starting from November 17.

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