The massive victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the formation of BJP-led NDA Government under the inspiring leadership of Narendra Modi have electrified the political scenario of Jammu and Kashmir. Another additional factor that has created a novel situation for BJP in the State is its splendid victory in the just-held Lok Sabha elections in J&K. The party won three out of six seats and got over 32 per cent of the total votes polled – nearly 1.5 per cent more than the extremely unpopular and fallen-from-the-grace ruling coalition comprising the National Conference and the Congress.
The ruling NC-Congress combine drew a blank in all the three regions of the State – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. No one had expected that BJP will do so well in the State and the rest of the country, but the people have proved political pundits and critics of the BJP wrong.
The other factor that has added more confidence to the already buoyed state unit of the BJP is the moral and political support it got, and continues to get, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Both the leaders, who created history by decimating the Congress and several other similar fake secular outfits, have been taking personal interest in the State. The reasons are obvious. They want the BJP to become a very important factor in the State’s political situation so that the regressive forces are defeated, fissiparous tendencies eradicated and the State is fully integrated with the rest of the country politically and constitutionally.
That all the three factors have changed the whole political outlook of the Jammu & Kashmir BJP could be seen from its May 1 resolve. That day, the BJP resolved to launch its Mission 44+ seats in the Assembly elections and form its own government in the State. (The Assembly elections could be held anytime between October and December this year, as the new government has to be in its place latest by January 4, 2015.) The announcement to this effect was made in Jammu by BJP State President and Member Lok Sabha Jugal Kishore Sharma while addressing senior party leaders, legislators and district and Mandal presidents.
“We have decided to start the poll preparations with immediate effect so that the ground is prepared on time for achieving the Mission 44+ seats in the Assembly polls,” he said. He also underlined the need of achieving this Mission saying the formation of a “nationalist government” in the militant and separatist-infested strategically important Jammu & Kashmir that believes in the unity and integrity of the country and principle of justice and equity is a “historical necessity”.
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The establishment of BJP government in Jammu & Kashmir “has become all the more imperative” considering the nature of divisive politics that Kashmir-based and Kashmir-centric parties like National Conference, Congress and People’s Democratic Party have indulged in during all these years of independence to pander to separatist and communal elements in the Valley and create troubles for the nation in Kashmir. The formation of BJP government will not only help eradicate fissiparous tendencies in the state and promote sound politics in the Valley based on democratic and economic issues, but would also lead to its all-round development was the upshot of his whole argument.
Avinash Rai Khanna, Member Rajya Sabha and in-charge Jammu & Kashmir, who was present in the meeting, also underscored the need of forming BJP government in the State. “The political situation in the State is conducive. The BJP can achieve its Mission 44+ in Jammu and Kashmir, like it achieved its Mission 272+ in the country. We have to start work in earnest and with renewed zeal right from today to achieve the target. We can achieve it,” he said amidst “Bande Mataram” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” slogans. This writer personally witnessed the proceedings and it was a wonderful scene. There was so much enthusiasm. All those present in the meeting in one voice committed themselves to achieving the Mission 44+. Remember, the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly is 87-member House.
Can BJP achieve the stated goal and form government in the State on its own? Political pundits and critics of the BJP will say no. They will say that it was only once in 2008 that it could cross the 10 mark and that its tally between 1957 and 2002 only ranged between one and eight.
In 1996, the BJP had won 8 seats, its second highest tally. In 2002, its tally was just one.
Jugal Kishore Sharma, who won the LS election this time by a huge margin of over 2.5 lakh votes, had won from Nagrota constituency with a very slender margin. He could just make it to the Assembly. Before 1996, its tally used to range between one and four.
It’s true that the highest number of seats BJP could win in the State was 11 and it happened in the Assembly elections held in 2008. But it’s also true that the BJP had led in more than 30 out of 37 Assembly segments both in the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections and won both the Lok Sabha seats in Jammu province with a huge margin. This should establish that the BJP has its support-base across Jammu province which elects 37 members to the Assembly. In the just-concluded general election, the BJP not only won both the Jammu seats and led in nearly 30 Assembly segments, but it also created history by winning the lone Ladakh Lok Sabha seat.
In the trans-Himalayan Ladakh, the BJP performed well in three out of four Assembly segments. In other words, the BJP performed exceedingly well in more than 33 per cent of the Assembly segments. In Kashmir, three candidates lost the election- BJP has never won in Kashmir because of the polarised nature of politics there. Like the previous elections, in 2014 elections too, the religious factor played a significant role. The National Conference, the Congress and other smaller groups, which also tested the political waters in Kashmir, did not leave a single stone unturned to frighten the Kashmiri Muslims by presenting Narendra Modi and BJP in a communal light and, it was this no-holds-barred misinformation campaign that held the Kashmiri from voting for BJP.
But the political situation in Kashmir Valley has changed to an extent in the aftermath of the developments which unfolded on and after May 16, including the elevation of Narendra Modi to the position of Prime Minister and virtual political extinction of the National Conference and the Congress in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The people of Kashmir have realised that the time for the ruling coalition in the State and at the centre is up and that, it would be only politically prudent for them to adopt a soft approach towards the BJP. In fact, a number of educated and other Muslims in Kashmir have already started coming forward to support the BJP and the government of Narendra Modi.
All this should serve to indicate that things in Jammu & Kashmir are changing and, are changing at an appreciable pace and that, it would not be surprising if the BJP achieves its Mission 44+.
If the BJP could increase its tally from two in 1984 to 282 in 2014, why can’t it achieve its stated goal, particularly at a time when the democratic and impartial BJP is in the driver’s seat in New Delhi and many regional satraps are trying to cultivate the BJP government?
Nothing is impossible considering the unfolding developments and the fact that many Muslims voted for the BJP not only in Gujarat but also in UP, Bihar, MP, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu, Ladakh and so on. To sum up, it can be said that Jammu & Kashmir, like Haryana, Delhi and Maharashtra, is on the top of the BJP’s political agenda and that the positive attitude of the national and local BJP leadership would surely induce many Kashmiri Muslims to join the BJP or support it during the coming Assembly elections in the State.
-Hari Om(The writer is Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu, Jammu)