Thousands of supporters turned up at the Jammu Airport and Gandhi Nagar here on Saturday to welcome former MLAs Devender Singh Rana and S S Slathia who quit the National Conference (NC) and joined the BJP in Delhi earlier this week.
Traffic on the main road was suspended for over an hour around noon as the supporters of the two leaders waited with garlands and flower petals and danced on drum beats and raised slogans.A procession was taken out as the two leaders travelled atop a decorated vehicle to Rana’s Gandhi Nagar residence.
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It took almost two hours to cover nearly eight km due to the supporters, including many members of the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities who came on their horses.
Rana had resigned from the basic membership of the NC along with former minister Slathia on October 10 and both the leaders joined BJP in Delhi the next day.
Among the supporters, many said that they were National Conference activists and supported the decision of Rana and Slathia.
“He (Rana) has never distinguished people based on religion and we are with him whether he is in NC or BJP,” Sarpanch Makhan from Udhampur said.
Choudhary Ali Mohammad, belonging to the Gujjar community, echoed Makhan and said they know Rana as a leader who doesn’t believe in the politics of religion and caste.
“He is the most popular leader of Jammu province and a person capable of the post of the chief minister. We hope BJP will accommodate him as per his stature and project him as a chief ministerial candidate of the party in the upcoming polls,” he said.
Narinder Kumar Sharma backed the decision of the two leaders to join BJP and said the grand welcome accorded to Rana and Slathia should open the eyes of those who said their parting ways with the National Conference would have no impact on the party in the Jammu region. (Agencies)