BJP and Jammu region in retrospect

By K.N. Pandita

Riding the Modi high-tide in 2014 assembly election, BJP Jammu region bagged 25 seats, an unprecedented performance in the State. Traditional parties like NC and Congress received a drubbing. PDP did not find the type of response it expected from the Muslim majority segments of the region. Despite putting its best foot forward by resorting to ambivalent polemics and pseudo-secularist jargon, PDP election strategy then did not go well with the Muslim segments of Jammu region. The voters were conscious of the consequences of saddling a militancy-born political group into the seat of power. The constituencies of NC and PDP considerably shrank in Jammu region primarily because of their ambivalence.

Obviously, the decision of forming a coalition government at that time was not that easy owing to blatant ideological divergence among the mainstream political parties. BJP, with the second largest group in the legislative assembly — 25 seats on its own and with a couple of elected law makers willing to be on BJP bandwagon — commanded comfortable political potency in the State for the first time. Was the party leadership well oriented to the emerging political landscape? We have doubts. Hindsight shows that BJP leadership demonstrated unreasoned postures for sharing power. The question was with which party? Entire attention got focused on numbers and the wider and more important national interests and ideological moorings enjoyed only low priority.

What seems to have guided the BJP in deciding to become coalition partner of PDP during and after the leadership of Mufti Saeed was the phantasm of earning the distinction of dislodging the historically entrenched National Conference. The Mufti, as Congress point-man, had made a good beginning by contriving the ouster of Farooq Abdullah in 1984.

The vital question before BJP in both post-election situations was to make a choice for aligning with either PDP or NC. The wishful thinking of ousting NC out of state political chemistry was perhaps a motivating force that made BJP decide to align with PDP. This utterly myopic view of the ground situation proved of no merit either to the interests of the State or the nation. The other prompting that catalyzed alignment with PDP was lust for power among the BJP legislators who had never tasted it before.

The truth is that BJP has not even now made a rigorous study of Kashmir situation in a way that harsh lessons would be learnt by its policy planners. Despite more than a decade of academic interaction by the Kashmir Study Centre, it has yet to grapple with the nitty-gritty of Kashmirian psyche, Kashmirian behavior and Kashmirian dialectics. KSC is indulging more in peripheral than in core issues, and that is not going to help.

The blunder of BJP was two-fold. One is that it had no competence to foresee what it meant to be aligned to a valley-centric party born out of the womb of militancy. The second was its inability to visualize the power and influence which a party with 25-strong members in the legislative assembly would have enjoyed by sitting on opposition benches. Alas! lust for power made them blind to the interests of the nation and the state.

PDP, having done considerable homework in advance, and adepts at deciphering the Hindu psyche, played its cards deftly. Once in the driver’s seat, it treated its bandwagon riders nothing more than camp followers satisfied with a few crumbs thrown to them by the boss. The masters became servants. Those who should have been the policy planners became footmen running the errands of their masters. The body of BJP ministerial group became dumb and deaf, oblivious of their status as the representative of a people that had been discriminated against for decades at end and had now voted them to power to bring them development and better life. Knowing that the party in driver’s seat was riding at will and guided by regional and parochial interests, the collating BJP had neither courage nor will to stand up and project the national cause. The party in driver’s seat managed to let nearly forty thousand non-state subjects (Rohingyas) into Jammu region (mark it not Kashmir region) in blatant violation of various restraining clauses in the State Constitution. The collating BJP ministerial group did not open its mouth. What greater disservice could have been done to the Jammu region and to national interests?

Never before has Jammu region witnessed abysmally paralyzed administration in terms of development and public welfare as during past four years of partnership regime. How pathetic that when at the fag end of the day BJP policy planers woke up they found to their consternation that their Jammu constituency was shrinking and shrinking. They tried some symbolic reformative measures within the party but the damage had been done.

Living in a world of phantasm, BJP Jammu is still incapable of gauging the mood of the people of the region. They had voted BJP to power and not PDP. Why did BJP agree to be collating with PDP when there was great divergence in political ideologies is the precise question the voters in Jammu region ask. A visionless political party and a party guided by selfish aggrandizement is not what the Jammu electorate is looking for. That is how BJP has achieved maximal success in destroying its base in Jammu region.

Jammu region does not want to promise the return of BJP to the legislative assembly with the numerical strength of yesterday. Nevertheless, by its non-deliverance and wanton waste of a golden opportunity of pioneering the cause of Jammu region, BJP has become instrumental in consolidating region’s demand for “aazaadi” from the triangular stranglehold.

However, if the State BJP forces a purge within the party and is able to assert its identity in a State torn by communal and regional bias creeping deep into the vitals, it working style has to be changed. Its action plan has to be home-bred rather than imported from New Delhi. The example of Capt. Amrinderf Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab is a sensible model and can be experimented. Discipline is good and hence recommended but subservience and slavery are abominable.

The End

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