Modi’s Magic Wand Wields in Kashmir Election

Can Modi make his hatrick after Haryana and Maharashtra and will open his account in J&K? Will BJP try on its own or make a coalition with certain groups/parties in Kashmir? What will be the main agendas for political parties to offer in their manifestoes to people? How much success will the boycott call of extremist forces get? Can people come out boldly in favor of elections like the previous elections or not? Will there be a chief minister from Jammu to lead the state, if BJP gets maximum seats from Jammu region? (There has been none other than from Kashmir province, though there is no constitutional barrier in having anyone from the three regions).

These are the questions in the voter’s mind. Very consciously voter has to decide against the compulsions of coalition politics, when no one had even predicted a clear majority for any political party.

It is pertinent to mention here that BJP in its Lok Sabha elections had mentioned abrogation of article 370 and it got 50% of the total seats from the state (3 out of 6) that means a bigger chunk of the electorate believes that this article is restricting their economic growth. Secondly, Modi’s communal stigma will be a big issue in the elections unlike the previous Lok Sabha elections. Those who worked hard to label him with the things which even courts denied silently helped him to reach to his present stature.

To achieve “Plus44 Mission”, BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party national president Amit Shah, eyeing for seats in the Hindu majority areas of the state and Kashmiri Pandit vote bank in the Valley. Though all major regional political parties in the state have rejected an alliance with the BJP, with many even alleging that the saffron party is trying to divide Jammu and Kashmir and should be kept away to preserve the fibre of the society, yet politicians tempt to go with the wind which is currently in favour of the BJP. NC, Congress and the PDP whose vote-bank is the same whereas BJP has its own vote-bank and it generally remains intact. Omar Abdullah has already admitted that Modi wave is still not over in J&K and the BJP would get a good proportion of seats in the Assembly elections.

The BJP, which has no base in the Valley, is said to be tapping smaller political outfits that over the years have been sidelined by parties like the PDP and the NC. Amid speculations of a post-poll understanding with the PDP, the sources said Modi and Shah were also in contact with leaders of the Bakarwal and Gujjar communities.

The political scenario as it prevails today across Jammu province is such that any party which would get around 30 per cent of the total popular votes polled would win 26 to 30 seats. And if at all it happens, the party with 26 to 30 seats would be either king or kingmaker.

Though Jammu and Kashmir has been mostly governed by National Conference (NC) apart from President's Rule, since the creation of People's Democratic Party (PDP), the state has witnessed a coalition government in 2002 and 2008. The Congress shared power on both the occasions - with PDP in 2002 and NC in 2008.

The parties like the PDP, BJP, BSP, Panthers Party or the CPI-M were from day one had been dismissing the NC-Congress coalition Government with contempt as anti-democratic, corrupt and anti-people. Now, the Congress, which has been sharing power with the NC since January 2009 and still part of the Government, too, is not leaving any stone unturned to expose the Government as well as the NC.

The fact is that JKPCC chief Saif-ud-Din Soz and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad have been publicly saying that the Congress didn't gain by keeping a truck with the NC. One day, it is Azad who says that the Congress' credibility and support-base declined because of its association with the NC. The very next day, Soz also pounced upon the NC and said that the Congress didn't gain by allying itself with the NC "Our experience with the NC is not good".

The people have started asking - Why didn't the Congress quit the Government if it felt that it was non-performing and the NC was not accommodating? In a way, they are holding the NC and the Congress equally responsible for the failure of the State Government to come up to the expectations of the people and deliver.

The position of the Congress appears worse, as compared with the NC. There are many senior leaders in the Congress as well as Congress ministers in Jammu who quit their organization and join the BJP of PDP. These Congress leaders and ministers have come to believe, and rightly, that the prevailing political situation in Jammu province is not favouring them.

Convinced that they have little or no chance in at least 24 out of 37 assembly constituencies in Jammu province, the leadership of the NC and Congress is focusing their attention in those 13 constituencies where the Muslim voters are somewhat numerous. But, again, their problem is that the PDP is also very much there in those 13 constituencies to upset the applecart of the NC and the Congress. The PDP has been mobilizing public opinion in these constituencies for months now and there are potent reasons to believe that the PDP would occupy some space the NC and the Congress has lost over the period for obvious reasons.

Congress has innovated a new strategy to concentrate on Muslim belts in the state. None other than the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad is so desperate for votes that he is dividing Jammu province. It appears that he has joined hands with the votaries of Greater Kashmir, who have been seeking to divide Jammu province since the late 1940s by saying that Jammu province consists of three sub-regions - Pir Panjal, Chenab Valley and the plain areas of Jammu. Their whole approach is sectarian and divisive. They believe that since Poonch and Rajouri and the erstwhile Doda district are Muslim-majority, these should be integrated into the Muslim-majority Kashmir. Jammu province has a distinct identity and no one can be allowed to undermine the territorial integrity of Jammu province.

So much so, the Congress party also could not replace the tainted legislators rather succumbed to the pulls and pressures of the candidates.According to party sources despite receiving complaints against the sitting legislators and earning bad name for the party high command succumbed to the diktats of faction ridden state unit.

An impression has been given by the party high command that it made efforts to balance the list of candidates by retaining close aides of both Ghulam Nabi Azad and PCC Chief Saifuddin Soz. Interestingly, both Azad and Soz who have declined to contest assembly elections, but Soz and Amrit Malhotra , Chairman Legastaive Council manage to secure tickets for their sons.

On the other hand National Conference is facing leadership crises as it has to fight against Peoples Democratic Party, which had won 41 of the 46 Assembly segments of the Kashmir region in the parliamentary elections and handed over the National Conference its worst ever result. Omar Abdullah , the third generation of the Abdullah family did not pick Ganderbal, an erstwhile bastion of the Abdullah family where the PDP had made strong inroads. However, party faces multiple challenges in the Jammu region from an invigorated BJP, the Congress and its arch-rival PDP. The party is also facing a challenge of its patron’s absence Farooq Abdullah who is under treatment in London.

However, of the 152 nomination papers filed in 15 constituencies falling in seven districts in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh regions for the first phase on November 25 of Assembly elections . There are six players in the election fray - the NC and its estranged ally Congress, BJP, PDP, BSP and the NPP.


More by :  R C Ganjoo

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