Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Pen Pricks: BJP taking baby steps in Kashmir

By Dr Romesh Raina

Post recent elections I came across a celebratory video from Kashmir, people distributing sweets and rejoicing BJP victory on the main streets of Srinagar. Not only that but the leader of the team making a pledge to strengthen the hands of Modi ji.Quite unthinkable at this U turn as every KP in not too distant a past was hard pressed to deny the tag of being a janasanghi Bhata to defend himself from retribution.KP’s calculated response though was driven by survival instincts yet there were multiple factors that constituted in making the mental makeup of the entire community which unfortunately had to cave in before a tsunami unleashed by a high voltage campaign against them.
It amused me no end when I read a news item in a newspaper about BJP toying with an idea of fielding a candidate in Srinagar and Anantnag Parliamentary by elections separately from its alliance partner PDP who also is fielding its candidates from these constituencies without any pre poll alliance amongst them in the forthcoming by elections. To understand well the present strategy of BJP in Kashmir we need to read and study carefully the statement made by its Gen Secretary Sh Ashok kaul who says “The BJP’s policies, working atmosphere and public dealings have been widely accepted by the general public”. This is an attempt to create a dominant political space in the Valley of Kashmir. This strategy is in continuation of its earlier declaration of mission 44+ made on the eve of previous J&K Legislative elections. We in this regard also need to take into account the total votes polled by it in the State in Parliamentary elections in 2014.BJP polled 32.4% against PDP 20.5% and NC 11.1% in actual numbers BJP got 1.15 million votes against congress 8.15 lac votes and PDP 7.3 lac votes. There is more to it than meets the eye and that is to transform the politics of Kashmir psychologically.

Presently there are two separate roles that BJP is playing in the Valley of Kashmir one is that of as an organization which is building itself against the heavy odds and another as a partner in the J&K coalition Government. With the recent electoral outcome heavily in its favor it has come to occupy the principle pole of Indian politics and made Sh Narinder Modi incredibly the strongest leader in the country. It has another great advantage to its credit and that is its national President Sh Amit Shah who is very crafty in building the organizational set ups and structures in every corner of the country and Kashmir is no exception. It therefore enjoys both political and electoral dominance. This has largely tilted the political balance in its favor.
BJP is fortunately seeking a political ground in the Muslim majority Kashmir and as a long term strategy is investing in evolving and involving a young Muslim leadership in the organizational affairs which was unthinkable before. It has profound implications for Kashmir. Known for its strong political understanding of National issues, it is hard trying to create a national space in the Valley of Kashmir by sowing the seeds of Hope and Change.BJP has also added to it an advantage of occupying an anti corruption space by demonetization and projection of Sh Modi as a crusader of corruption. This has given it a dominant role in the coalition politics of the State. Another very important factor in this entire political thinking is that PDP is gradually coming closer to BJP at the centre. Looking back at the politics played by PDP earlier and in its inceptive years, it looks quite encouraging to accept the hard realities and with this may be the “Achhe Din” might open an account in Kashmir.

BJP’s serious entry in the electoral politics of Kashmir has therefore made the opposition parties NC and Congress to sit and to take note of this development. As a follow up both NC and Congress are working out the modalities to contest the forthcoming polls together. It is too premature to say that whether there is an addition of fourth angle to the otherwise a triangular contest between PDP, NC and Congress. In all probabilities there is an assumption that it might expand its social base by its deft social engineering to make it acceptable to the people in Kashmir. However in all the major political parties there was one thing common in their agendas and that was to keep the separatist forces in good humor. With its addition as an electoral player in the local politics it is to be seen whether they adopt a national agenda or present blended local agenda with a mainstream flavor. In any case it augurs well for the people as it will definitely alter the political atmospherics of the place.

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