The fact that BJP was willing to accept the 2-MLA party chief from Kashmir Sajad Lone as the state’s new CM only proves that it has no regard for the people of Jammu province and Ladakh region
In 2014, the people of Jammu province voted overwhelmingly for the BJP both in the Lok Sabha elections and the assembly polls. It won all the two Lok Sabha seats and 25 out of 37 assembly seats with huge margins. The people of Jammu voted for the BJP under the notion that a vote for it would be a vote against the 67-year-old politics of separatism, against the Kashmiri Muslim-dominated and Kashmir-centric rule, against dynastic rule of Abdullahs and Muftis, for the state’s complete integration into India, for their own empowerment and for a political status equal to that of Kashmiri Muslims. Their belief had stemmed from the speeches delivered by the BJP’s top leaders, including PM Narendra Modi. Indeed, the BJP contested the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the name of Jammu and Ladakh and on the plank of national integration.
The BJP signed what was called the PDP-BJP agenda of the alliance, which was nothing but an agenda of subversion and another rivet in the chain of Jammu’s and Ladakh’s slavery
Sadly, the BJP belied all the hopes of the people of Jammu and Ladakh by stitching an alliance with the Kashmir-based, militant and Pakistan-friendly, anti-Jammu and anti-Ladakh People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Its argument was that the PDP was the largest party in the assembly with 28 seats and it had been left with no option but to become a junior partner in the coalition government. It handed over everything on a platter to the PDP. It not only handed over the office of Chief Minister to the PDP for a full term of six years but also allowed the PDP to control all vital portfolios, including Home, Finance, Planning, Revenue, Education, Tourism, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Agriculture. Not just this, the BJP — much to the chagrin of the people of Jammu province — allowed the PDP to function as if it was a one-party rule. As if all this was not enough to outrage the sensitivities of the people of Jammu province and subvert the mandate, the BJP gave in writing to the PDP that it would not touch Article 370 and that New Delhi will initiate talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat to resolve the Kashmir issue. The BJP called Pakistan and Hurriyat leaders stakeholders in the state, which was, and is, legitimately Indian.
In effect, the BJP signed what was called the PDP-BJP agenda of the alliance, which was nothing but an agenda of subversion and another rivet in the chain of Jammu’s and Ladakh’s slavery. The PDP-BJP rule between March 1, 2015, and June 19, 2018, was the worst-ever rule Jammu and Ladakh witnessed. Jammu and Ladakh suffered enormous socio-economic and political losses. And the nation suffered because of the PDP’s soft approach towards separatists and terrorists, as also because of the PDP’s highly obnoxious healing touch policy. The fact of the matter is that the plight of the people of Jammu and Ladakh was never so miserable as it was during the misrule of the PDP-BJP and the nation felt helpless, as the BJP continued to bungle at regular intervals. Ironically, the BJP toed the PDP line and defended its all acts of omission and commission as well as its highly discriminatory policies. It would be no exaggeration to say that the BJP followed the Nehruvian line in J&K and further muddied the Indian waters in the state for the sake of power and profit.
On June 19, the BJP snapped ties with the PDP in a dramatic manner. The announcement to this effect was made in New Delhi. Defending withdrawal of support to the PDP, the BJP leaders said that the party severed ties with the PDP because it had not dispensed justice to the people of Jammu and Ladakh and because it failed to handle the problem of separatism and cult of terrorism in an effective manner. The people of Jammu heaved a sigh of relief. They thought that the BJP had learned lessons from its past mistakes and that its whole political approach towards the Kashmiri leaders and towards Jammu and Ladakh had undergone a significant change.
It’s difficult to say if the BJP would be able to convince the people of Jammu province and Ladakh region that it is a party with a difference
However, the BJP again betrayed the people of Jammu province on November 21, the day J&K Governor dissolved the assembly and defended his decision saying he took this step to avoid horse-trading and preserve democratic norms. He dissolved the assembly hours after PDP leader and former minister Altaf Bukhari gave media persons in Srinagar to understand that the PDP, the NC and the Congress were all set to form a grand alliance and form coalition government in the state. He even declared that the grand alliance could approach the Governor in the evening to stake the claim for formation of the government. Later on, it became clear that the so-called grand alliance had been formed to defend the state’s special status and protect anti-democratic, anti-people, divisive and discriminatory Articles 35A and 370, notwithstanding the fact that neither the NC nor the Congress had given a letter of support to the PDP.
However, I will skip what the Governor did and what the leaders of the so-called grand alliance, including Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Ghulam Ahmad Mir did and said on November 21 and 22. I will focus on another point: The claim of the People’s Conference (PC) chief and former minister Sajad Lone that he also had the required numbers to form coalition government in the state, but he couldn’t stake his claim as the fax machine at the Governor’s residence didn’t receive his fax to that effect. Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP had also said the same while questioning the Governor. She, like other leaders of the grand alliance, in fact, accused the Governor of murdering democracy.
What did Sajad Lone say while staking a claim for forming a coalition government? He said that he enjoyed the support of all the 25 BJP MLAs and he also had the support of “18 other MLAs”. Former Dy CM in the Mehbooba Mufti’s government and senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta on November 27 acknowledged that the “BJP was supporting Sajad Lone”. The Sajad Lone’s PC had only two MLAs. In other words, he claimed that he had the support 44 MLAs in the 87-member J&K assembly. What does all this show? It only showed that the BJP was more than willing to barter Jammu to fulfil its insatiable lust for power and profit. The fact that it was willing to accept the 2-MLA party chief from Kashmir Sajad Lone as the state’s new CM only proves that it has no regard for the people of Jammu province and Ladakh region, who gave it a status and that it could go to any extent to hurt them and hurt their interests.
The question is: Who will the people of Jammu now vote for? They hate the politics, the NC, the PDP and the Congress-style and that’s was the reason that they defeated all the three Kashmir-centric outfits and voted for the BJP. It’s difficult to say if the BJP would be able to convince the people of Jammu province and Ladakh region that it is a party with a difference, that it really believed in the empowerment of the people of these two regions and that a vote for it in Jammu and Ladakh will be a vote for Jammu and Ladakh, and not a vote for Muslim CM from Kashmir.
In the meantime, Jammu & Kashmir Governor SP Malik has exposed the BJP and said: had he acted at the behest of the Centre, Sajad Lone would have formed the government and he would have gone down in history as a dishonest man. “If he had looked towards Delhi for instructions, Sajad Lone would have formed the government. And I would have gone down in history as a dishonest man. So I ended this matter. New they (Delhi) can abuse me but I am convinced that what I did, is right,”
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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