Syed Tajamul 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 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 vote bank. This election, the BJP stood second, after the PDP, with 25 seats, all from the Jammu region.
The coalition government, led jointly by the People’s Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP, which came into existence on Sunday, March 1, 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 – called 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, 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 a political commentator.
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 favor of PDP just to keep BJP at bay 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 on Tuesday, senior PDP leader and chief spokesperson of the party, Naeem Akhtar, described the alliance as the “miracle of democracy.”
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 favorable 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, the BJP and India should thank him.