Anti-BJP campaign in Kashmir
by Hari Om on 16 May 2015 2 Comments

The Bharatiya Janata Party is perhaps the only political party in the country that has never hesitated to appreciate the viewpoints of other political parties in order to bring them on board so that it could form or run its government with their “conditional” support. Students of Indian politics are fully aware of the activities of the BJP between 1996 and 2004, as also of its activities after it formed its government in Delhi in May 2014 after obtaining a massive mandate.


Its strategy to win a seat or two from Kashmir, its alliance with the People’s Democratic Party on the latter’s terms and conditions, and the agenda of alliance struck with the PDP are three recent classic examples that show that the BJP is soft towards those who stand for self-rule and who term Pakistan and Hurriyat Conference and militants “external and internal stakeholders” even in this part of Jammu & Kashmir. The BJP has been doing all this to cultivate the minority communities, especially the Muslims, including the Kashmiri Muslims, but with little or no success.


Take, for example, its election campaign in Kashmir during the Assembly elections. The BJP poll managers didn’t leave any stone unturned to win a couple of seats from the Valley. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a largely-attended election rally in Kashmir, but the party couldn’t win a single seat. Significantly, all of its candidates, barring one, forfeited their security deposits. The BJP couldn’t open its account despite the fact that the party did not raise any contentious political issue. So much so, it didn’t mention Article 370 even once to reassure Kashmiri Muslims that it respected their stand on it. Yet the BJP could garner less than 50,000 votes, which included Hindu and Sikh votes.


Convinced that it has to put in more efforts to extend its constituency from Jammu to Kashmir, the BJP leadership has taken some more steps to achieve the goal. It has realized that the task is not so easy. It has to surmount many problems before it could make its presence felt in the Valley. Its biggest problem is the hostile attitude of Kashmiri leaders – both separatist and the so-called mainstream – towards it. In fact, separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and “mainstream” Kashmiri leaders from the National Conference, the CPI-M and other Kashmir-based formations are all against the BJP.


More importantly, they have all joined hands to keep the BJP out of Kashmir. They have pledged to defeat the BJP’s efforts through media and public mobilization and made their anti-BJP intentions very clear on May 13 and 14. Syed Ali Shah Geelani and NC patron Farooq Abdullah took the lead on May 13. They blamed the PDP and Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for the entry of the BJP into the state’s political establishment (as coalition partner).


On May 13, Farooq Abdullah accused Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed of “paving way for BJP’s entry into the State” and asserted “yes, we were in an alliance with BJP, but I didn’t allow BJP flags to be waved outside Civil Secretariat. The BJP has befooled Mufti. They couldn’t befool us, but they managed to befool Mufti. The BJP’s agenda is same as that of Syama Prasad Mukherji – ek pradan, ek vidhan, ek nishan (one leader, one nation, one symbol). We are not fools here, we know everything. Kashmiri Muslim will ‘never accept’ the BJP even if its leaders jump from the sky,” he said in an interview to a local English language daily.


Geelani, on the other hand, shared his views on the BJP and the PDP with visiting former Chief Justice of Pak-occupied-Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK) Syed Manzoor Hussain Geelani, at his Hyderpora residence in Srinagar the same day. He told Hussain Geelani that by forging an alliance with the BJP, Mufti Sayeed opened the doors for the implementation of the “wicked policies of RSS” and “willing or unwilling, he has to be the facilitator for all this process”. “The communal forces of India (read the BJP and the RSS) have first time got a direct entry into the administration of Kashmir and they want to implement their long pending agendas of changing the Muslim identity, demography and the status of the Kashmir dispute as soon as possible,” he added.


Interestingly, the Jammu & Kashmir Government claims that Syed Ali Shah Geelani “has been under house arrest since May 5”. What sort of this house arrest is? But it should not surprise us. After all, we have a government in place which says democracy is a battle of ideas and everyone is free to exercise his democratic right to preach his/her ideas. Anyway, what Syed Geelani told Hussain Geelani was just a reiteration of his old stand on the BJP.


But what happened in Srinagar on May 14 is very significant. It indicated the extent of the impact Farooq Abdullah’s statement had on other Kashmiri leaders, also called mainstream leaders. Not one, but three Kashmiri leaders, came forward to second what Farooq Abdullah had said just 24 hours ago. One belonged to the Congress party, another to the CPI-M and the third one was a militant-turned-politician.


Senior Congress leader and former minister Abdul Gani Vakil said: “I believe it will remain a dream for BJP to win at least one seat in Kashmir. In Jammu, the party played communal card and I am sure that the people of Jammu will repent soon for voting BJP to power. I second Dr Farooq Abdullah that BJP has no future in Kashmir”.


MY Tarigami, state secretary of CPI-M and MLA from Kulgam, expressed almost identical views. Seconding the anti-BJP statement of Farooq Abdullah, he said, “the PDP-BJP is an unprincipled alliance and there is no common ground except the opportunism to share power”. He also endorsed the view of Farooq Abdullah and Syed Ali Shah Geelani that the PDP paved the way for BJP’s entry into the state’s political apparatus. “The CPI (M) is on record that we have repeatedly reiterated that BJP is communal party,” he also said.


Militant-turned-politician Hakim Yasin, an MLA from Kashmir, endorsed Farooq Abdullah and asserted, “what he has said about PDP’s plan about paving way for BJP into state is understood by the common people”. “The NC, the Congress and all other local politicians had extended support to the PDP for forming the secular government. The PDP preferred to go with communal party. Even Ghulam Nabi Azad had also floated the idea of grand alliance. The BJP is anti-Muslim party. Even the children know that BJP is against our special status, against Article 370, against our identity. Now, see BJP is also losing its ground across the country as there is contradiction in its words and action,” said Yasin.


Paradoxically, even the newly-appointed chief spokesperson of the PDP, Mehboob Beg (former NC MP and ideologue), didn’t really appreciate the BJP. He said the PDP had no option but to form a coalition with the BJP as it had won the mandate in Jammu. “People in the three divisions of the state gave three different mandates and the PDP had no role in it. We secured the maximum seats in Kashmir and in Jammu it was the BJP that outnumbered all the parties,” said Beg.


This is the whole situation in Kashmir. All are against the BJP despite what it did to appreciate the Kashmiri viewpoint. Will the BJP top brass refashion their whole approach taking into consideration the hostile attitude of the Kashmiri leadership and Kashmiri society towards it and take appropriate steps to strengthen the vast nationalist constituency in the state, which is quite unhappy? They must, in their party’s interest, in the interest of the state and in the larger interest of the country as a whole.     


The author is political adviser to the J&K state unit president of the BJP

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