‘Is there anything communal or reactionary or anti-national about it? If India”s Constitution is good enough for the rest of India, why should it not be acceptable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir…?’ Shyama Prasad Mookerjee in a letter to Pt. Nehru on February 8, 1953
Some years ago, while speaking at an International Conference, one of the prominent scholars from JNU had said that for some problems ‘no solution itself is a solution’, and Jammu-Kashmir is one of them. The professor was indicating that status-quo is the only solution to the deceptive issue of J&K. If somebody tries to analyse the recent elections in J&K as merely Jammu Vs Kashmir and BJP Vs PDP then that would be undermining the vitality of democratic process. One has to understand the undercurrent to gauge the deeper message of this verdict in the only Muslim majority state of India.
When the fraudulent victory of 1953 when Sheikh Abdulla, with the tacit support of Pt. Nehru, disqualified all the opposition candidates, people of J&K rarely experienced the real electioneering in Assembly elections. PM Modi addressing as many as eight rallies in J&K, including the one in Srinagar, nullified the call of boycott by secessionist groups. First time election campaigning was in full vigour by almost all political parties, including the smaller parties of the valley. As a result, electorates from hometowns of separatists, Syed Salahuddin and Syed Shah Geelani, also voted above 60 percent. And that is why in the government formation process, people of J&K are going to have higher stakes this time.
Secondly, J&K politics always revolved around the Kashmir valley, with agenda ranging from of autonomy to azadi. This was the first elections where aspirations for development and governance superseded separatism. Drug addictions, anti-incumbency, post-floods rehabilitation, youths aspirations to be part of India’s growth story were clearly visible issues in the electioneering. Hence, while forming the government also the ability to address these aspirations will matter and no political party can neglect this.
Lastly, the complex elections of J&K for long remained disconnected to the national mainstream. Regional parties kept towing to either the soft or hard line separatism and kept dictating terms to the national parties and kept the governance Srinagar centric. Nationalist voices within the valley and especially from Jammu and Ladakh were always neglected in this process. But this election has handed over the keys of governance to the Jammu region and nationalist forces. In Muslim dominated areas of Jammu, like constituencies of Rajouri and Inderwal, BJP has performed well. Congress as a national force is replaced by the BJP with clear integrationist agenda. In the existing political scenario, thus, it’s almost impossible to form the government without BJPs participation in the state.
On the basis of these developments, one can definitely conclude that ‘status-quo’ is replaced by ‘hope and change’ in J&K. Though tacit alliance with Sajjad Lone and other smaller groups of the valley has helped BJP to some extent; raising organisational structure to garner votes is still an unfulfilled task for the nationalist forces
The rise of BJP in J&K is definitely a tribute to Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, the first martyr for the cause of J&K. Hope this path-breaking election will open up new vistas to fulfil the longstanding desire for real integration of J&K by extending all provisions of Indian Constitution to the turbulent state.