What should BJP do to win over alienated Jammu and Ladakh?

The fact of the matter is that the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state was just in a name

What should BJP do to win over alienated Jammu and Ladakh?
What should BJP do to win over alienated Jammu and Ladakh?

Will the BJP rise to the occasion to win over the alienated Jammu and Ladakh and send a right message across the nation?

The BJP, on June 19, finally took the big plunge and withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition government, which was, in fact, a government formed with the consent of the Hurriyat Conference. (Mehbooba Mufti on December 14, 2015 had herself said: “With (former Prime Minister) Vajpayee the experience was good, but forming an alliance with the present BJP was not easy for us. It took us two months to decide the agenda of the alliance.  Hurriyat party was also called and getting its consent on most of the issues the government is working”.)

The credit for the peaceful conduct of assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir in 2014 goes to Pakistan and PoJK-based terror outfits”.

The decision of the BJP to withdraw its support to the Mehbooba Mufti government surprised all, including the PDP and the J&K unit of the BJP. It surprised them all the more because both believed that the BJP high command, which on occasions more than one knelt before Mehbooba Mufti, will never withdraw its support to the PDP-led Government.

 

Their belief was well-founded. After all, it was at the behest of Mehbooba Mufti that the Narendra Modi Government took several steps which only helped her promote her separatist agenda. Some of these steps included the grant of amnesty to 11,000 dreaded stone-pelters in Kashmir, an announcement of the unilateral ceasefire, called Ramzan ceasefire, and the willingness of the Narendra Modi Government to start talks with jihadis in Kashmir. All these three acts plus the mindless and senseless support of the BJP to the negative stand of the PDP on discriminatory and divisive Article 35-A, minority rights to minority Hindus, citizenship rights to the Hindu-Sikh refugees from Pakistan, construction of Sainik Colony and townships for the internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus in Kashmir and the manufactured Rassana (Kathua) rape and murder case, demand in Jammu for a CBI probe into the case, to mention only a few, simply promoted the cult of violence, undermined national security, dumb-founded the nation and security forces and weakened and demoralized nationalist forces in the state.

The fact of the matter is that the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state was just in a name. The PDP functioned during all these 36 months or so as if it was a one-party government. The BJP ministers were there but only to endorse the PDP, obey its diktats and implement the PDP’s subversive and anti-Jammu, anti-Ladakh and anti-minorities agenda. It was the PDP which ruled the roost and the BJP played only second-fiddle to it. So much so, late Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed told Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his face on March 1, 2015, at the Jammu University’s General Zorawar Singh’s Auditorium that the “credit for the peaceful conduct of assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir in 2014 goes to Pakistan and PoJK-based terror outfits”.

Will the withdrawal of support to the Mehbooba Mufti government or fall of the Mufti government and imposition of Governor’s rule help the BJP retrieve the lost ground in Jammu and Ladakh?

The truth, in short, is that the PDP exercised extraordinary executive, legislative and financial powers to the advantage of Kashmir and its particular constituency (in this case Muslim) and humiliated the BJP again and again in a most brazen manner with the BJP swallowing all the insults for the sake of some loaves and fishes of office. Not just this. The BJP national general secretary and in-charge Jammu & Kashmir, Ram Madhav, came to the rescue of the arrogant, ungrateful and Pakistan and terrorist-friendly PDP again, again and yet again much to the chagrin of the people of Jammu and Ladakh, who had given the BJP a status and brought it into power in the state for the first time in 67 years. One may put in any amount of effort to find if the BJP at any point of time during all these 36 months or so asserted its authority or position, he/she will come out of the exercise minus everything. Instead, he/she would come to the conclusion in no time that the BJP, instead of appreciating the 2014 mandate and the national needs, requirements and compulsions, only toed the PDP’s line and helped her radicalize Kashmir and undermine the Hindu-majority character of Jammu province.

The case in point is the February 14, 2018 Mehbooba Mufti’s written directions to the Deputy Commissions of Jammu, Kathua, Samba and Udhampur (all in Jammu province) and Inspector General of Police Jammu province and the Police “not to disturb or dislocate” members of tribal community (in this case Gujjar and Bakerwal Muslims) from the state, forest or any other land they occupied illegally.  Not only this, she also directed the same day in writing to the Police that the concerned authorities will not invoke Section 188 of the Ranbir Penal Code and Cruelty to Animals Act and allow bovine smuggling. It would not be an exaggeration if someone says that she officially supported and encouraged demographic invasion on Jammu province to further the Islamists’ agenda. The helpless or power-hungry BJP knew all this but did nothing to make Mehbooba Mufti withdraw her outrageous directions. This was the status of the BJP in the coalition government that the PDP headed for three long years. No wonder then than that the BJP became thoroughly unpopular in Jammu and Ladakh and also became an object of contempt and ridicule across the nation.

Will the withdrawal of support to the Mehbooba Mufti government or fall of the Mufti government and imposition of Governor’s rule help the BJP retrieve the lost ground in Jammu and Ladakh? The answer cannot be in the affirmative, notwithstanding the fact that the people of Jammu, especially 6 million Hindus, celebrated the exit of Mehbooba Mufti from office as a day of thanksgiving and a day of deliverance. To say so is not to suggest that the BJP cannot restore the ground lost. It can retrieve the lost position provided it is willing to scrap Article 35-A, grant citizenship rights to the refugees from West Pakistan, hand over the Kathua case to the CBI for a fair and transparent inquiry, deport Rohingyas, withdraw the February 14, 2018 directions to the Revenue Magistracy and Police and reorganize the state on a regional basis to end the 70-year-old Kashmiri Muslim hegemony over Jammu and Ladakh. Will the BJP rise to the occasion to win over the alienated Jammu and Ladakh and send a right message across the nation? Only time will tell.
Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Hari Om is former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu.
Hari Om

9 COMMENTS

  1. BJP should stick to its core Hindutva agenda. Even a slight deviation is very costly and makes it no different from Congress . Sabka sath , subka vikas is the ideology for governance. The growth of the party and good governance should be dealt in a synergistic way.

  2. BJP must take the steps mentioned above. Create new UT for Ladakh and Make Jammu part of Himachal or make it an UT as per choice of locals. Also need to take bold step to abolish ,A370 and 35a articles and use brut force to hunt down extremists, terrorists.

  3. The BJP must define itself as a party for Indic peoples and cultures, because if it claims to represent everybody, it will end up representing nobody—as happened in Jammu and Kashmir.

    About the only thing the BJP got right in its Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) policy was the timing of its exit from the coalition government. Consider where it would have been if, instead of pulling the plug on Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP yesterday (19 June), the latter had taken the initiative to drop all BJP ministers and forced them to quit saying they were not doing their jobs. The BJP would have been left with no face, no story to tell its core base.

    The problem for the BJP is essentially a simple one: if you make compromises to gain power without understanding who you are or what you stood for, you have to be able to show what you gained from the compromise. To be a junior partner in the PDP-led coalition, the BJP gave up all its demands: abolition of article 370, full integration of the state with the rest of India, and abandonment of article 35A, which empowers the state legislature to decide who a permanent resident is, who can be given special privileges.

    More than article 370, which merely gives more autonomy to J&K, it is article 35 A that is the key villain. It was slyly included in the constitution without parliament passing it, providing the state the basis for separatist thinking. Article 370 can be fixed once all Indian states are given more powers to manage their affairs, but article 35A – which is being heard in the Supreme Court – must go. As long as it stays, it provides the intellectual basis for all Indian states to discriminate against migrants and people from outside the state. The basis of Indian nationhood is equal rights for all citizens in any part of India. This is a point even so-called “constitutional liberals” never emphasise. Once this clause goes, Indians can move and settle in J&K and vice-versa, allowing greater emotional integration.

    The BJP must target article 35A even more than article 370.

    But the larger question is for the BJP to ask itself what it won’t do for acquiring power: if it will do anything, including sell its grandmother and core principles, for power, it will not only alienate its core voter, but cease to be any different from the Congress or any other bogus secular party. It might as well merge with the Congress, or take the latter over and appoint Sonia Gandhi as its titular head.

    In J&K, for example, the BJP did not ask itself a fundamental question: what did it gain (for the country or itself) by sacrificing its demand – even if temporarily – for abandoning article 370? At the very least, it should have got Mufti to toe its line on national security and offer a commitment to campaign for J&K being an integral part of India so that alienated youths could be brought back to the mainstream. It should also have taken a strong stand against jihadi Islamism, but Mufti actually went the other way in asking India repeatedly to talk to Pakistan, when that country is the source of our problems in the Valley. Pakistan’s generals are committed to India’s destruction, with Kashmir being the first on the agenda.

    While there is no harm talking to Pakistan or alienated Kashmiris without conceding first principles, the point is if Mufti was never going to do her bit to convince her people to drop the gun (or stones, for that matter), the partnership was never going to work. Clearly, Mufti did not bring any strength to the table where the BJP could justify its dilution of stand on article 370. Article 35A, of course, is unconstitutional, and must be scrapped by the courts.

    The three-and-a-half years misadventure in J&K brings the BJP back to facing this basic question: what is the party’s self-definition?

    The answer must be clearly this: it is a party for Indic peoples and cultures, which includes Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and many local tribal cultures resident within the territory of India.

    So, what happens to the Muslims and Christians who exist is large numbers in various parts of India?

    Answer: the BJP should not make the mistake of claiming to represent them. Instead, it should allow them to speak for themselves, and enter into coalitions with parties representing them on the basis of an understanding of what it can do for them. It is not right for the BJP to claim to represent Muslims and Christians, for this would be a wrong claim. In fact, this was a wrong claim even for the Congress to make, for it was merely running a protection racket for the minorities and doing little for them.

    A genuine statement that the BJP does not represent Muslims and Christians – except those who accept cultural nationalism in the way it defines it – means the BJP would be free to defend Indic interests, while working out deals for power-sharing on the basis of specific agreements with those who represent non-Indic peoples or religious groups. If the BJP claims it represents everybody, it will end up representing nobody.

    This is what happened in J&K, where it even failed to defend Jammu’s and Ladakh’s interests, while sacrificing its overall stand on articles 370 and 35A. In J&K, its primary duty was to speak up for Jammu & Ladakh and wrest concessions from Mufti, but it hardly did so.

    This is the only way forward: the BJP must define its constituency and let Muslims and Christians bargain with it for things that are of interest to them. In fact, this should be the rule for every party. Define who you represent.

    Sabka saath, sabka vikas can be a government slogan, not for a party which claims a Hindu constituency.

    Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.

  4. Why is Hari Singh’s diktat still running the roost? Was there anything before him? Laws and boundaries change over time. 35A is unconstitutional throw it out.

  5. Its not late and everything can be sorted back and can be made better. But as a lesson learned, make sure that bone head Ram Madhav be punished for this arrogance and stupidity..

  6. The first course of action should be to appoint a ex-Military General as the Governor. The next step is to constitute a special Council of Eminent People to be chaired by Subramanian Swamy to advice the Governor. In no time Kashmir will become free of insurgents and POK would become part of India.

  7. Absolutely spot on. But will the government have the balls to implement 25% of what you have mentioned. What are they worried? Just go and do it. Come on!

  8. Prof.Hari Om has not been particularly friendly with the BJP since hee left BJP. He was the spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir once upon a time if I remember right and resigned because he was not made a Rajya Sabha MP!He was with Congress and resigned discovering the party’s soft terrorism etc. Currently he is seen blowing hot and cold on Narendra Modi Government with great fury which made me wonder whether he is again ready to sell his intellectual horsepower to the highest bidders again! Prof.Hari Om has not really absorbed PM Modi’s philosophy of governance which saw an unburdening on issues of religious differences and regional politics with an agenda for development of all. If that has failedin J&K it is sad though his strategy brought BJP into power in the state for the first time in 67 years. I think it was worth trying than never tried at all!BJP could not have continues a kind of voluntary peripheralization in J&K.

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