If the BJP, which promised Hindu chief minister from Jammu in 2014, could give Mufti Sayeed from Kashmir, why can’t it give Omar Abdullah or someone else from Kashmir if it failed to win 44 seats?
Jammu & Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina has been asserting again and again that his party will win more than 44 assembly seats as and when assembly elections are held and also form the next government in the state. He has been saying that his belief that the BJP will win the required number of seats this time stems from its “great performance in the just-held general election”. “We led in 25 out of 37 assembly segments in Jammu province, 3 out of 4 in Ladakh and one out of 46 in Kashmir and we got more than 17 lakh votes and all other parties together got less number of votes” has been the upshot of his whole argument.
The BJP won all the three Lok Sabha seats from Jammu and Ladakh with huge margins and we will put up a better show in the next assembly elections has been his other refrain. The point is that Ravinder Raina has been patting his back for the reason that the BJP led in 29 out of 87 assembly segments.
Ravinder Raina has not only been claiming that his party will win the required number of seats but will also give Hindu chief minister from Jammu. “It will happen this time. A dream is to come true,” Ravinder Raina has said. “We will have a Hindu chief minister from Jammu this time,” he has also said.
In 2015, the BJP defended its coalition with the PDP saying the mandate was fractured and it had been left with no other option but to shake hands with the PDP.
It is not for the first time that the Jammu & Kashmir BJP has been promising Hindu chief minister from Jammu. In 2014 also, the BJP had held out a similar commitment and had won 25 assembly seats, the biggest-ever BJP’s tally in the electoral history of the state. It had won all the 25 seats from Jammu province. In Kashmir and Ladakh, the BJP drew a blank.
The BJP’s scathing attacks on the Abdullah and the Mufti dynasties and their politics of Pakistan, autonomy and self-rule and soft approach towards secessionists and those involved in Kashmir Jihad had tilted the balance in its favour. But what had helped the BJP all the more win so many seats from Jammu was its commitment that a vote for it would mean a vote for Hindu chief minister from Jammu, empowerment of Jammu, empowerment of women, citizenship rights to Hindu-Sikh refugees from Pakistan living in Jammu since their migration in 1947, end of 67-year-old Kashmiri domination and hegemony over the state’s polity, economy and social institutions, to mention only a few.
What did the BJP do after winning 25 seats from Jammu province? It disappointed the people of Jammu province by forging an alliance with the Kashmir-based pro-self-rule and Pakistan and separatist-friendly People’s Democratic Party (PDP). It was a total sellout. A sellout in the sense that the BJP not only handed over the office of the chief minister to the PDP for a full term of six years but also handed over to it almost all the portfolios with political weight, patronage and considerable funds. Some of these included Home, Finance, Planning, Revenue, Law, Education and Agriculture leaving the people of Jammu province high and dry. Not just this, the BJP allowed the PDP to have more representation in the Cabinet, which discusses and decides questions of supreme importance to the happiness and well-being of people.
As was expected, the BJP’s alliance with the PDP didn’t go down well with the people of Jammu province. What annoyed them all the more was the BJP-PDP agenda of alliance. It was unsettling. It contained everything which the PDP wanted and the people of Jammu and Ladakh hated and despised. In fact, it was almost a carbon-copy of the PDP’s election manifesto. It said the BJP will not touch Article 370. It said that Pakistan and Hurriyat operatives were stakeholders and talks would be held with them to resolve the so-called Kashmir issue. It even endorsed the PDP’s age-old suggestion that the state should be demilitarized.
Worse still, the BJP allowed the PDP to incorporate in the agenda of alliance its pernicious trifurcate Jammu province formulations. It talked about the “Chenab Valley” and the “Pir Panjal Valley”. This, despite the fact that no such Valleys existed anywhere in Jammu province. Kashmiri leaders like Sheikh Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Sayeed and Omar Abdullah had been using these terms only to ensure three-way split of Jammu province on religious lines and formation of “Greater Kashmir” consisting of Kashmir and Muslim-majority areas of Jammu province and Ladakh. Not just this, the BJP allowed the PDP to incorporate in the agenda of the alliance the term (intolerant and exclusivist) Kashmiriyat – a term which was coined only in 1976 to help the then chief minister Sheikh Abdullah masquerade as a liberal, all-embracing and secular leader. There was no reference to liberal, compassionate and all-embracing Dogriyat and Ladakhiyat in the agenda of alliance. It was no wonder then that the politically conscious people of Jammu province termed the agenda of alliance a “document of subversion” and “another rivet in the chain of Jammu’s and Ladakh’s slavery”.
What happened between March 1, 2015 (when Mufti Sayeed formed coalition government) and June 19, 2018 (when the BJP withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government) is too well known. It’s hardly necessary to reflect on what happened in the state during these days. Everything is in the public domain. Suffice it to say that the PDP-led coalition government hurt and jeopardized the interests of the nation and people of Jammu and Ladakh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did make a valid point when he repeatedly termed the BJP-PDP coalition as “Mahamilawati Gathvandhan”.
In 2015, the BJP defended its coalition with the PDP saying the mandate was fractured and it had been left with no other option but to shake hands with the PDP. “We only respected the mandate by forging an alliance with the PDP,” the BJP repeatedly said. Will it again forge an alliance with a Kashmir-based party and hand over everything to it on a platter as it did in 2014 if it failed to reach the magic figure of 44 in the next assembly elections is the question the BJP needs to answer. The question needs to be asked: If the BJP, which promised Hindu chief minister from Jammu in 2014, could give Mufti Sayeed from Kashmir, why can’t it give Omar Abdullah or someone else from Kashmir if it failed to win 44 seats?
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.