Apni Party's major Jammu pick Kamal Arora enters BJP, via Devinder Rana
Kamal Arora (middle) at the Prime Minister’s house as part of the Apni Party delegation in March 2020
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Apni Party’s major Jammu pick Kamal Arora enters BJP, via Devinder Rana

Kamal Arora is perhaps the only person in this lot who has carried sustained political influence across over two decades in his electoral constituency Bishnah, in Jammu district.
Apni Party's major Jammu pick Kamal Arora enters BJP, via Devinder Rana
Jammu: Following his surprise march into Bhartiya Janta Party on October 11, the former National Conference heavyweight Devinder Singh Rana on Sunday staged his first show of strength by pulling in half a dozen prominent political figures into the saffron camp.

According to an official statement from BJP, former Minister Prem Sagar Aziz, former Deputy Mayor of Jammu, Dharmavir Jamwal and former MLA Kamal Arora were among those who joined the party in presence of Tarun Chugh national general secretary in-charge Jammu and Kashmir affairs.

Who is Kamal Arora?
Most of them who joined BJP today at Devinder Rana’s behest may be well known political figures but none of them has significant electoral potential. Kamal Arora is perhaps the only person in this lot who has carried sustained political influence across over two decades in his electoral constituency Bishnah, in Jammu district.

A pharmacist who has been popular as ‘Doctor’, Kamal Arora’s struggle has been very long and complicated. Also known by surname Verma, Kamal gave neck-in-neck fight to a popular rival candidate Ashwani Sharma before registering his first win in 2014 Assembly elections.

Kamal and Ashwani had emerged as popular youthful leaders around the same time and they faced election against each other in 2002. The two were caught in a unique political environment. Arora contested in 2002 on National Conference ticket the election that was to make party’s historic decline -falling from 60 seats to 28 in the House of 87.

This was the year of Congress’s ascendency which was to return as partner in power for next 12 years. Like Arora, his opponent Ashwani had also taken a wrong decision. Groomed as a young leader in Congress, Ashwani aligned himself close to BJP as he joined the RSS backed Jammu State Morcha. He did win the election but staying back in the Congress could have surely earned him a cabinet berth -almost every such legislator from Jammu, Samba and Kathua who won on Congress ticket in 2002 and 2008 elections made way to the respective ministries.

With NC reduced to under 30 seats and appearing in no condition to improve, Arora switched over to the Bahujan Samaj Party on the eve of 2008 elections. Over 20 constituencies in Jammu region had for a long time a committed vote bank for the BSP. This fact, however, didn’t favour Arora who lost once again to Ashwani Sharma. Sharma had by now formally joined the BJP.

In 2014, it was a pack of surprises in Bishnah. Arora was back in NC. He fought against Ashwani who continued to be in BJP and was seen as sure winner for the third time. Ashwani’s own good work and charisma was further augmented by the Modi wave which delivered to BJP 25 of the 37 seats in Jammu region.

Lo and behold! Ashwani Sharma lost this election. Dr Kamal Arora registered his first win and emerged as one of the only two Hindu candidates candidates winning from any party other than the BJP. The other candidate was Devinder Singh Rana.

Winning for National Conference, Arora and Rana served as examples on many counts and withstood many onslaughts of a highly challenged political environmental of Jammu region following rise of BJP. With National Conference being increasingly presented to people by BJP and a pliable media as a party of Kashmir and also of Muslims, Arora and Rana quietly defied the new normal of polarised politics.

Arora, however, caved in following the events of August 5, 2019. As the leadership of National Conference and People’s Democratic Party spent months in jails, their members in Jammu began to run away. The first major departure was in the shape of Apni Party whose leadership since it’s formation in March 2020 has been self publicising patronage by New Delhi. The Apni Party was created mainly by pulling out key members of the People’s Democratic Party. Vijay Bakaya, Syed Asghar and Kamal Arora were the exceptions from National Conference. Among them Arora is the only one to have some electoral potential.

Ever since joining the Apni Party, Arora has kept low profile and remained largely away from the party affairs. About Apni Party he said, “the party is shut inside, it is dead”. His switch over to BJP, in follow up to Devinder Singh Rana, is of huge symbolic importance: if the legislature of 2015 were alive today, all Hindu MLAs in the House would be of BJP’s.

BJP statement
Tarun Chugh welcoming the prominent political faces said that for 70 precious years there was lot of discrimination with many communities like Gujjars, ladies, refugees, Valmikis but now Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ensured deliverance of justice to every community. He said that today, BJP welcomes every like minded person from othe political party who have become part of the BJP family with open mind for serving the Nation. He said that BJP has taken every possible step to ensure development of every community and every region for unprecedented development with the target of “Antodaya”. He said that they have chosen the perfect day when whole of Nation is celebrating birth anniversary of Iron Man of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Ravinder Raina praised the new entrants for their decision to join the BJP and said that they have come to the right place. He said that these public representatives have their trust in the public and are known for their dedicated work in the society. He said that BJP is the party of all without any consideration of their region or religion. He said that this massive joining is a clear indication that next CM of J&K will be from BJP.

 

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Apni Party's major Jammu pick Kamal Arora enters BJP, via Devinder Rana