The assembly poll results are out. The politically sensitive state of J&K has a hung assembly. Whatever the coalition formed to govern the state tension and heartburning lie ahead. The reason is simple. The Valley and Jammu have distinct and strong identities and people in both parts will resent dominance by the other.
The desire of peoples with distinct regional identities to get satisfaction of self rule is natural and healthy. Whatever the contours of the future ruling coalition two incompatible regions are bound to end up in discord. This situation is doubly ironic. The poll results have given a clear majority to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Valley and to the BJP in Jammu. But for cobbling a majority in the whole of J&K there will be a cross regional alliance leading to future differences. This result was foreseen. That is why this writer debunked the BJP quest for a majority in the entire state as misconceived.
For stable governance it would be better to divide J&K into its three distinct identities. The Valley and Jammu can be new states and Ladakh can be a centrally administered Union Territory.
At the start of the poll campaign I wrote:
“The Chief Minister of Kashmir invariably belongs to the Valley and not ever to Jammu or Ladakh. Together Jammu and Ladakh have just a handful of fewer legislators than elected from the Valley. The goal of electing a Chief Minister from outside the Valley is not therefore objectionable. But the solution to redress an injustice to Jammu and Ladakh is …fraught with danger. It might foment communal tensions…Ironically there is a simple and rational solution…The BJP is committed to … creating smaller states to address the demands for new states emanating from several regions of the country. The BJP has already endorsed the demand for a separate Vidharbha state …. why does not Mr. Modi’s government act to create three separate entities out of present day Kashmir? The Valley, Jammu and Ladakh have all three distinct and separate cultures, ethnicities, languages and religious majorities. They deserve to be separated to ensure more self rule for all the peoples of the state. The Valley and Jammu can be made new states and Ladakh can become a separate Union Territory.”
If the Modi government dares to introduce real change a more far reaching reform might be considered. Let the Valley get all the powers of autonomous rule it desires. To end its special status the same measure of autonomy may be granted to all other states. In order to ensure that increased devolution of power is not at the cost of national cohesion the President should be empowered to exercise responsibilities ascribed to the office by our Constitution. India needs an executive President who alone has the electoral mandate from all the States of the Union. These systemic changes should be in place before Mr. Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends. Then Mr. Modi can become India’s first executive President.