The interview of Mehbooba Mufti, ex-CM of J&K, by a Hindustan Times correspondent, was published in HT’s 19/09/18 issue. In the said interview, Mehbooba claimed her party to have suffered political setback by combining with the BJP in forming the government in the state. When a party to a contract claims to have suffered a loss in a transaction involving two parties, the other party is logically said to have gained correspondingly, unless it was a loss-loss situation for both. That triggers a thought for verifying whether the said interpretation was true. However, since the current political discourse in the country includes invariably RSS or Sangh Parivar whenever there is a discussion about BJP, weighing the gains for the Sangh Parivar or the right wing as it’s popularly called by the mainstream media, in the whole matter would be a good idea.
BJP had its 25 representatives in the last state assembly, elected in the elections of 2014, which was a historical achievement for the party, compared to its earlier tallies. That was the first visible gain thereby establishing its electoral merit in the state politics, consolidating its vote bank among the Jammu Hindus, which had not found such a clear expression earlier.
When it decided to form the government with PDP, it was not approved of by the general sentiment of its nationwide supporters, quoting PDP’s history of hardline agenda, only marginally different than that of the separatists. The opposition too, had expectedly criticized it to be the marriage of the incongruous. Notwithstanding the same, it went ahead with the decision and got its Deputy CM entrenched there. Having done that and run the state administration jointly with PDP for three and a half years before breaking up, it gained actual experience of running the state apparatus and related insights. That was the second gain.
The party continued in position by extracting decisions from its central leadership on unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan, appointment of an interlocutor of a chief secretary rank and even granting amnesty to the stone pelting Kashmiri youth who did not have such history, obviously at PDP’s nudging. That way it displayed the necessary patience towards handling the pressures of governance, contributing substantially towards the state’s effort for peace simultaneously. Here it was the third gain, where nobody could find fault for lack of sincerity or it getting dictated by the Sangh ideology in any manner.
The fourth and biggest gain has been on account of its steadfastness with regard to its core ideology of nation first, demonstrated through various actions like heavy retaliation against terror including the surgical strike of 29/09/16, improving the record of Indian security forces hunting down highest ever number of terrorists including many high profile ones like Burhan Wani. The episode of Major Gogoi getting felicitated at the hands of the Army Chief, for his brave action of tying up a local Kashmiri on Army’s jeep in order to save his soldiers’ lives, would never have happened under any other political dispensation at the centre. As a result, the larger social discourse in the country about terrorism vis-à-vis human rights took a turn in favour of the said actions.
In the above referred interview with HT, Mehbooba Mufti rued throughout about the centre not towing the line of late A.B. Vajpayee with regard to the affairs of J&K. She lauded Vajpayee for being consistent in engaging with the separatists internally as well as reconciling with Pakistan externally, despite the episodes of Kargil war and terror attack on the Parliament, both perpetrated by Pakistan.
Although Mehbooba holding up the Vajpayee era examples belonging to almost two decades old period to be the ideal ones in her perspective is understandable, they would not be acceptable ones in the current scenario where much has changed in the intervening period, including the intensity of cross-border terrorism, that of the counter-terrorism operations and also the public opinion.
When quizzed about the distinction between her party’s agenda and that of the separatists in the said interview, Mehbooba could respond with only a single point of difference viz. her party’s (or the mainstream Kashmiri political parties’) belief in the Constitution of India.
Apart from the ‘Vajpayee era’ thing, Mehbooba has also lamented the fact that the central government has not played its role by legislating against any possible challenge to Art.35-A, which is currently under adjudication in the Supreme Court. She has also underlined that Art.35-A was the condition for Kashmir’s ‘alignment’ (not integration) with India in 1947 and is thus unchallengeable. Both PDP and NC have by the way decided to boycott the upcoming Panchayat polls in the state, as a sign of protest against the challenge to Art.35-A.
Now looking at both the above claims from a perspective, can one conclude that the mainstream Kashmiri political parties viz. PDP and NC are mouthing their belief in the Constitution of India only because of the presence of Art.35-A and Art.370 there and if the same happen to be removed from there in future as a result of a supreme Court decision, the said belief would end naturally?
As if apprehending the natural fallout of falling out with each other being only a matter of time, BJP decided to exit the government in time, making way for the governor’s rule, scoring its fifth gain in keeping its vote bank intact.
In conclusion, the right wing of India has succeeded in presenting the ‘right’ view to the people of India, as far as the Kashmir affairs are concerned.