Monday, December 17, 2018
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Gujarat Results And The Kashmir Imbroglio - A ray of hope

By B L Saraf

They say election time is to assess the impact of divided realties, especially those which are thrown up after the results are out . Though divided yet these realities provide for a bunch of possibilities which may be utilized by the contending parties . For a winner at the hustings it is time to consolidate the gains and an occasion to strive for the better results, in future . For the looser , it is an opportunity to introspect and prepare for another fight –another day . Gujarat Assembly election results must be read that way .

Political analysts, across the spectrum , are of the view that recently concluded Gujarat State Assembly elections will have a bearing on the larger Indian political scene “ including the strength of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Opposition parties, principally the Congress .”

Modi may have won Gujarat elections but the sheen is worn out . He has lost much of the political punch . He will be under more pressure to show results and give impetus to his schemes for the betterment of poor and battle against corruption ,unaccounted wealth as also to deliver on major governance issues which have enormous political implications , both , within the country and outside .

With attention turning inside Modi will have to find time for Kashmir . On the Kashmir front , Prime Minister Narendra Modi has much to look inside . That being at the helm of affairs for nearly three years now it is for him to assess what BJP dominated NDA Government has achieved that could distinguish its record from the decade old rule of Congress led UPA . Hubris has no place when it comes to deal with Kashmir . Modi did, unfortunately, show symptoms of the disease a number of times . Mainly, when he addressed a public gathering in Srinagar after he and late Mufi Sayead had formed an alliance government in the State .

Many felt Modi’s attitude was blatantly arrogant and political incorrect when he , in presence of thousands of Kashmiris brought by Mufti Sayead to hear the PM in Sheri Kashmir Park in the autumn of 2015 , snubbed the then C M who had , very rightly, asked for better Indo- Pak relations to sort out the K issue . Modi’s indifference to the late Chief Minister was evident when he denied the dying C M a personal get well visit when latter lay admitted to a Delhi hospital for over a period of three weeks , before leaving the world . These are small maters of courtesy but in political arena they constitute a vital move to turn around the whole game . PM had an opportunity to endear himself to the Kashmiris in September 2014 and redeem his reputation as builder of Kutch , when they were devastated by the unprecedented floods . Alas ! It couldn’t be.

Even now all is not lost . BJP may have got lesser strength in the new Gujarat Assembly but personally the PM enjoys a pre-eminent position in eyes of most of the country men . He will have to make up his mind whether to follow a Vajpayee line in Kashmir or allow NSA Doval to have his way . One glaring lesson which the recent election has thrown up is that people will prefer AB Vajpayee to Parveen Togodia . PM has often been emphasizing the doctrine of “ Inssaniyat “ Jamhhooriyat “ and “ Kashmiriyat “ while sorting out the ‘ K ‘ issue . It is time to walk the talk .
Government both in Srinagar and Delhi cannot afford to be complacent . Kashmir society has changed fast and continues to change -- in parts for better and mainly not for ‘ the better’ . New configurations and interests , as they do elsewhere in the globe ,are appearing . New dialects of aspirations have borne - adding on to what was already there - ranging from greater autonomy and self rule to the independence . A focused attention to the festering problem is required . First of all , give the locals a feeling that India has not conquered them, that they are equal partners in the national political enterprise and that their identity, both , political and psychological will be preserved .

It is really reassuring what the Union State Minister of Home informed the Rajya Sabha other day that there is “ no proposal as of now for abolition of Article 35 A and 370 which give special status to J&K .” There is a need to drop the idea of abolition of these provisions , for good .

Encouraging signs are emerging from the Valley on the law and order front , where security forces are active . There is need to strengthen them by a matching political initiative . Separatists have refused to meet the Center’s interlocutor but have not completly spurned him . Elements of sincerity and a strong political will , to carry it to the logical end , should be infused in the exercise . For the dialogue to succeed it has to be all encompassing . India –Pakistan engagement will add to the effort of finding a way to the solution .

In the meantime the PM should impress upon the State government to deliver on governance matters . He may ask the BJP ministers to dispel the impression that they are indulging in mal practices rather than focusing on issues of public service.

(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )

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