BJP vows to strip Kashmir of special rights
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India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party vowed on Monday to strip decades-old special rights from the people of Jammu and Kashmir, making an election promise that could provoke a backlash in the country’s only Muslim-majority state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)is widely expected to retain power after a general election that starts on Thursday, though with a much smaller mandate, hit by concerns over a shortage of jobs and weak farm prices. Pollsters say its re-election campaign got a boost from recent hostilities with arch-rival Pakistan, after a militant group based there claimed a February suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian security forces in the Himalayan region. “Nationalism is our inspiration,” Modi said after releasing the BJP’s election manifesto at its headquarters in New Delhi, as supporters chanted “Modi, Modi”. The BJP has consistently advocated an end to Kashmir’s special constitutional status, which prevents outsiders from buying property there, arguing that such laws have hindered its integration with the rest of India.