‘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…’
– Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee to Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru in a letter Dated February 8, 1953.
The BJP-PDP alliance is all set for the alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir. This government formation is historic in many ways. There is a competition within the ‘secular’ camp to term this historic moment as a mere real politic or politics of convenience. They are also hoping that this alliance further strains the relationship between Jammu and Kashmir on communal lines. Considering the stated positions of both BJP and PDP on crucial issues may be the reason behind that. If we analyse this political development carefully, it is a historic moment for the State and India.
Till recently, nobody would have imagined a nationalist force like BJP would be a major stake holder in the power dynamics of J&K. Not just BJP is not only occupying the political centre stage but the state which has been a victim of personal and political blunders is also brought to the nationalist discourse. First time in history, regional imbalances in the state discriminatory towards Jammu and Ladakh is set to be corrected. The issues related to rehabilitation of West Pak refugees and Kashmiri Pandits will also get importance through this alliance.
Alienation of separatist forces, who were acting at the behest of Pakistan, is the best outcome of this political process. Yasin Malik of JKLF claiming that the BJP has managed to defeat them by adopting a “psychological coercion” which compelled Kashmiris to vote in large numbers during the local elections, itself shows their frustration. The obvious outcome is their mentors in Pakistan are also fuming. Growing movements and shelling in border areas is the result of Pakistan’s helplessness, hence the grand victory for democratic process in India. Pakistan knows very well that people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Mirpur-Muzaffarbad, which are also parts of Jammu and Kashmir but illegally occupied by Pakistan, are watching this participatory politics, which is denied to them completely.
The most important outcome of this reconciliation between BJP and PDP is that the state of Jammu-Kashmir is joining the national mainstream. Till now, regional parties of the state gained space in Delhi but the ruling party democratically occupying space in the state is significant. Resultantly, like other parts of India rather than communal aspirations or caste dynamics, development and governance has gained the thrust in the politics of this turbulent state. BJP-PDP coming together, keeping aside their ideological differences is another important development in this regard. This has sidelined the dynastic and personality based politics of Congress and National Conference, who have manipulated the sentiments of people for their personal gains. More importantly, the youth of J&K whose aspirations are as high as any other youth of India will be relieved from the clutches of poverty and alienation. In the long run, this is the only way for addressing and nullifying the inhibitions of people in a few districts of the Kashmir valley.
Though running this government will be a tightrope walk, especially for the PDP, if interests of the people of J&K are kept in mind, this will be a historic opportunity. Keeping away from the pressures of separatist tendencies, focusing completely on development and providing transparency in governance will be key in this regard. J&K joining the mainstream political agenda is a real tribute to the first martyr of independent India, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, who always insisted on complete integration of J&K with the Indian Union. This government formation should be seen in this light.