Syed Tajamul (BM Imran)
History has been created in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP, which won a single seat in the 2002 Assembly elections in the State, increased its tally to impressive 11 in the 2008 elections, which were conducted immediately after the land row agitation during which several small Hindu organizations, along with the BJP, consolidated the region’s Hindu votebank. This election, the BJP stood second after the PDP, with 25 seats and gained massive electoral gains , all from the Jammu region.
The coalition government, led jointly by the People’s Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which came into existence recently is a stunning political event. Who would have imagined that when a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak for many years would be Prime Minister, the BJP would win 25 seats to influence the course of political and cultural events in Kashmir? Who knew that one day he would depute his hawkish confidante and party President Amit Shah to supervise the Common Minimum Programme between the BJP and PDP, also called the Agenda of the Alliance — exaggerated by some as the ‘second Instrument of Accession’? Who would have thought that Shah would depute the BJP’s newly appointed General Secretary Ram Madhav, who for years has been a popular face of the RSS, to negotiate a deal with the PDP — a party known for its soft stand on Kashmiri separatists, whom the RSS dubs as anti-nationals?
A day after the BJP and the PDP announced that they would form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, a sense of coming to power prevails in the Hindu-majority Jammu where the BJP won all its seats.
“For BJP, its blitzkrieg of ‘Mission 44 +’ worked out well to touch the highest ever mark of 25. So the next move was to be in the power structure as it was a ‘now or never’ situation for the party. To be a power player in the only Muslim majority state is surely a dream come true,” noted political commentator, Shujaat Bhukari, wrote in Rising Kashmir.
If we look back in election rallies both parties PDP & BJP have always opposed each other, in jammu region BJP have said that PDP is an anti Indian party while as in Kashmir PDP has said that BJP is the real enemy of kashmiries since 1947.
While both the PDP and the BJP have climbed down from their stated positions for forming the government this time, people in Jammu see this as a victory, unlike in Kashmir, where the majority feels betrayed by the PDP.
Not only that but if we look on the voter turnout most of new voters voted in favour of PDP just to put BJP out from Jammu and Kashmir But presently people in Kashmir Valley remain wary. Mufti himself had described the PDP-BJP alliance as unification of “North Pole and South Pole”, but recently, senior PDP leader and chief spokesperson of the party, Naeem Akhtar, described the alliance as the “miracle of democracy.”
“We voted to keep BJP out of power but the same BJP would rule us now. This is not what we have voted for. This is not why we trusted Mufti saheb. We feel cheated and the PDP will face the consequences of its alliance with BJP in Kashmir in coming years,” Nazir Ahmed Wagay, who lives in Anantnag, said.
And the new voters as well as the youth of Kashmir is writing such things; “After Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s will be the second grave to require police protection if PDP allies with the BJP,” Showkat Reshi, a student at University of Kashmir, wrote on Facebook.
Both sides have different agendas and perspectives on Kashmir’s history. Both sides, as Mufti said to the television cameras after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were as different as the ‘South and North Poles.’ Still, the alliance of the opposite poles has been woven carefully and craftily. Mufti spoke from the heart when he met Modi for 70 minutes at the prime minister’s office. He told Modi and later the media that a flight from Srinagar to Jammu takes 20 minutes and a journey by road 6 hours, but the emotional distance has remained for the last 60 years that should be bridged by the PDP-BJP government.
The momentous time has put a huge burden on the shoulders of Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Sayeed, who will have to work pragmatically to see that their parties ensure the agenda of the alliance fructifies. Both men have an opportunity to turn statesmen.
In Mufti’s case, his success will help a torn state that has seen only tragedies to experience peace. The PDP-BJP’s harmony, while delivering development and justice to the people, will give the state an opportunity to grow and shed some painful memories. Of course, their success will help not just India and Jammu and Kashmir, but also the geopolitical territory.
If Mufti succeeds, his legacy will strengthen the efforts of his daughter Mehbooba Mufti to carve out her future. Modi can kick start from Jammu and Kashmir the historic transformation of his exclusionist party towards an inclusive political journey.
It was one of the most difficult agenda-setting exercises in recent history. Both parties were aware on day one that a consensus was unlikely. There would only be an agreement to understand the differences that could be put it in perspective to run the development agenda.
So, in the common agenda setting exercise, has the PDP won or the BJP? It is difficult to say. Such agendas, however balanced or one-sided, can be judged only after it is put to the test.
Also, since the PDP-BJP alliance faces more odds than favourable conditions, all stakeholders will have ultra-cautious optimism.
If any one side had dominated the agenda it would have made the alliance a non-starter. It seems the BJP will be a little flexible in Mufti’s efforts to bring into the mainstream one section of the Hurriyat and separatists leaders, while on the issue of the Jammu region’s woes, Mufti will be liberal. If Mufti can do both, then the BJP and India should thank him.
The BJP had the chance to have its own chief minister if Omar Abdullah had agreed to an alliance. Sources say Abdullah met BJP leaders in New Delhi, but after he returned to Srinagar his party forced him to ditch the BJP.
The National Conference has 15 seats and the BJP 25 in the state assembly. In the 87-member assembly, a BJP-National Conference alliance would have got the BJP its own CM, but Abdullah’s party thinks a PDP-BJP alliance is unworkable.
The PDP, the National Conference believes, will be the bigger loser if that happens. And once it suffers a setback, Mehbooba, Omar Abdullah’s arch rival, will suffer the most.
If and when the PDP-BJP alliance fails, it is argued Abdullah will be able to deal with the BJP from a position of strength. RSS-BJP leaders think that Jammu and Kashmir is India’s most important state, not just for India’s security, but for the country’s identity. Modi has taken up a pragmatic step by not selecting the National Conference, but the PDP to form a coalition government