Srinagar: After days of speculation over why the Centre was moving troops to J&K, reports emerged on Wednesday that the aim was to provide security cover for a move to hoist the Tricolour in every panchayat in the state this Independence Day.

Government sources told a leading daily that many panchayat heads wanted to unfurl the national flag on Independence Day so the deployment of troops would avoid an untoward incident.

Sources said the BJP had given instructions to its units in every panchayat of the state to hoist the Tricolour on August 15. The BJP also hopes that the move will help it in the runup to the Assembly elections later this year.

The daily said that preparation for elections was on top of the agenda during the meeting of senior BJP leaders with the J&K core group on Tuesday evening.

The meeting, chaired by BJP Working President JP Nadda, was attended by party General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santosh, General Secretary in charge of J&K Ram Madhav, Union Minister Jitendra Singh, National Vice President Avinash Rai Khanna, state chief Ravinder Raina and senior leaders from the state, including Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta.

Later, Raina told the media that the announcement of poll dates would be after the Amarnath Yatra. “As our Home Minister said in the Lok Sabha, the Government and the BJP are ready to face elections whenever they are announced.”

Sources said state leaders have been asked to focus on developmental issues and campaign against the corruption at all levels. “The participants were of the view that initiatives taken by the central government against corruption have rattled some leaders and separatists in the Valley,” they said.

The BJP is reportedly focusing on winning as many seats from the Jammu, Leh and Ladakh regions while providing “resources and manpower” for Independents in the Kashmir Valley, sources said to the daily.

The party’s senior leaders have denied speculation that the Centre was planning to initiate discussions on eliminating Article 35A. On Tuesday, they indicated that the BJP would not tweak the provision before the Assembly elections. “Our priority is to hold the elections successfully in the state. We are confident that the BJP will do well,” a leader said to the daily.