BJP must sit in opposition in J&K
by Hari Om on 11 May 2015 6 Comments

Should the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continue to remain part of the establishment in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) or should it come out and play the role of an effective and responsible opposition as it used to till March 1, when it entered into a post-poll alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to “break the jinx” in the Muslim-majority State and came to power, overlooking the nature of Kashmiri leadership and its ideology, as also the controversial antecedents of its new ally?


The PDP is a strong votary of Kashmiri Muslim sub-nationalism. Its self-rule agenda is a carbon-copy of the former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s 5-point break-India Kashmir solution. It needs to be noted that PDP patron and J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has on many occasions publicly said that though his agenda is both political and developmental, his first priority is his political agenda.


His daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has asserted umpteen times that no power on earth could force her party to deviate from its political agenda. “No power on earth can stop us from implementing our agenda,” she declared on April 28 during an interview with Mr Karan Thapar of Headlines Today.     


Disturbing developments which unfolded in Kashmir after the formation of PDP-BJP coalition government clearly suggest that the continuation of the BJP in the J&K Government is neither in the larger national interest nor in its own interest. Its continuation in the Government has all the potential of marring its electoral prospects across the nation because the country has invested too much in the State since its accession to India. Indeed, the BJP would do a great service to itself and its ideology, besides the nation as a whole, if it forthwith says goodbye to the PDP and sits in the opposition.


It is hardly necessary to catalogue here the alarming developments which took place in Kashmir after March 1, as the nation is fully aware of each one of them. Suffice to say that the situation has gone from bad to worse and there is no nationalist opposition left in the sensitive border State after the BJP opted for power politics. It is a free-for-all in Kashmir.


Separatists have openly and brazenly been preaching sedition, advocating the Pakistani cause and inciting gullible Kashmiri Muslims to launch what they call as the “final assault”. They are exploiting to the hilt the PDP’s concept of democracy that doesn’t consider the ongoing process of anti-India mobilisation in Kashmir a cognizable offence. It says day-in-and day-out that “democracy is battle of ideas” and everyone in Kashmir is free to preach whatever one wishes to.


The truth, in short, is that the BJP joining the State Government has turned out to be a boon for the Kashmiri parties and separatists. They want to discredit the BJP, which, sadly, is succeeding. The BJP could have played the desired role, had it been in the driving seat or had the crucial home, law and general administration portfolios under its control. Since all the vital departments are with the ideologically committed PDP, the BJP just cannot discharge its obligations towards the State and the nation.


J&K is not like any other State of the country. It is a very difficult and complicated State. It requires very careful handling and needs a party which is capable of and competent enough to puncture and defeat the ongoing Pakistan-backed and funded secessionist and sectarian movement. The BJP is the only party that could defend and promote the country’s paramount sovereign interests in the State and preserve the territorial integrity of India through its strong nationalist responses and protests in and outside the Assembly.


The BJP’s political conduct in J&K has to be different because Kashmir has been getting on the nation’s nerves since 1947. The problem in Kashmir is neither political nor economic. Kashmir is India’s most powerful political region. It has its own Constitution. It has a separate flag. It, unlike other States, also exercises residuary powers. No Central law can be extended to the State without the consent or concurrence of the State Government. It is virtually a republic within the Indian Republic. Thanks to Article 370. Kashmir is also India’s most prosperous region, where till date not a single Kashmiri Muslim has died of hunger or cold and where no Kashmiri is without a roof.


The problem in Kashmir is patently sectarian, and not communal, and it is as old as the State of J&K, which came into being in March 1846 by a quirk of history. The only difference is that while the Kashmiri Sunni leadership, between 1847 and October 1947, consistently fought for Kashmir’s “liberation” from the “alien Dogra/Jammu rule”, it has been demanding “liberation” of the entire State of J&K from the “alien” India since October 1947, despite the fact that a Kashmiri has been at the helm since the State’s accession to India.


There is hardly any leader in Kashmir who subscribes to Indian unity or considers J&K a settled issue. The most horrible aspect of the whole situation in Kashmir is that not a single “mainstream” Kashmiri leader has ever expressed faith in the Indian Constitutional framework. In fact, all the so-called mainstream Kashmiri leaders have all along held Indian laws and Indian political and constitutional institutions responsible for the estrangement of Kashmiri Muslims from India. It is, of course, true that they have never despised the hard-earned Indian rupees, financial packages and New Delhi-funded developmental activities and projects.


It needs to be underlined that there is no fundamental difference between the PDP, the National Conference and the Congress as far as their attitude towards India and stand on J&K is concerned. They are all on the same page and want for the State something more than what it already has. They work in unison in the J&K Legislature and supplement each other’s efforts, notwithstanding some occasional jibes at each other for political reasons. Their behaviour outside the State Legislature is no different. The truth is that they play a dubious role from different platforms, advocate the same ideology (Kashmiri Muslim sub-nationalism), do not mind flirting with Pakistani agents like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, and work in tandem to reach the same goal.


It is hoped that the BJP would realise the gravity of the situation, come out of the government and return to the path it used to tread before it joined the coalition government. The fight in J&K is purely ideological and the BJP, the second largest party in the State Legislature, can successfully fight it out only if it sits in the opposition and plays the role of a nationalist watchdog.    

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

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