What Could Be Political Hue Of New Kashmir Government?
The record polling on November 25 has changed the whole electoral landscape, for the boycott call remained mere formality. Would it mean that the optimism of coming to power by BJP could turn into the case of so near yet so far?
Suspense has deepened. Those who forecast that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was likely to break the jinx and win, for the first time, a minimum of five to six seats in the Valley are not now so sure. The earlier calculation was that six seats in the Valley would along with a near sweep in Jammu and Ladakh give BJP 44 seats, one short of majority, yet it would form the government with help of the likes of Sajjad Lone. It was also almost sure that Lone would be made Deputy Chief Minister.
But the record turn-out on the first of the six-round of polls on November 25 has been claimed to be due to polarisation. The separatists call for boycott remained a mere formality. They did not follow up to make their call effective. The fear that a boycott would help BJP was the reason for them to lie low.
The polarisation, Syed Mufti’s PDP and Abdullah’s and National Conference, claim was between Muslims and a handful of Pundits. Observers said out of 15 seats in the Valley for which voting were on November 25, eight could go to PDP and the majority of remaining seven to Congress. People are livid with Omar Abdullah for his Government’s failure to rescue them or provide relief during floods. This is why Mehbooba Mufti chairperson of PDP claimed that her Party would emerge as the single largest and form the next government.
But poll surveys while forecasting that PDP would do better than all other parties ruled out that it would be able to form the government without any support. Mehbooba ruled out taking support from the BJP. But this could be just poll rhetoric. If she needed BJP’s support post-polls one is sure she would.
But before discussing various combinations, one needs to understand the polarisation that is claimed to have taken place has been between whom. The number of Pundits is so negligible and thus their capacity to influence the number of constituency is so less that we can presume to polarisation had happened.
Could this mean that polarisation has been between the old and the youth? If so, why? Could it be that the old who do not see beyond Art 370 and the intensive propaganda that the BJP would, if it won choose a Hindu Chief Minister and push for demographic change have got polarised against the youth are tuned to development and change. They have been seeing the aspirational and globalised youth in India. Narendra Modi and his rallies in J&K had detailed his plans for strengthening economy through setting up of plants, generating job opportunities and over-all progress. He accused the previous State governments of doing nothing but looting. The youth there, including those who threw stones, know about the corruption and bad governance by earlier governments.
So what happens if the polarisation has been between the old and the young? And this is not in the realm of impossible. The calculations would have to change completely. The clash will then be limited between PDP and the BJP. But the favourable odds it enjoys in the Valley will be more than off-set by the advantage BJP has in Jammu. On the contrary PDP has no influence there.
In the heat of electioneering, everyone has forgotten that Amit Shah has been to the State and tried to promote the BJP’s electoral prospects. He concentrated on Gujjars, who are neither rabid pro-Pakistanis nor religious fanatics. They have been treated as political outcasts by both NC and PDP.
Yet they influence outcomes in about 10 to 12 seats.
Sources say that Shah has held meetings with Gujjars, and about six of the likely candidates agreed to support BJP if a few are accommodated in the Cabinet and generally given certain respect. The Gujjar Community Association has unanimously passed that the community will support BJP candidates.
One should also not forget that nothing was left to chance. The BJP on its own is expected to win 38 seats, four it has secured through understanding with individual contacts, including that of Bhim Singh, chief of Panther Party. Four others from a Party are being assisted in every possible way to win. They will initially support the BJP Government as independents and then later join the Party.
It might also be too early to come to any definite conclusion. Five more polling is left and so are rallies by Modi. The cold vibes between Modi and Nawaz Sharif and the failure to restart dialogue during SAARC could have some fall-out on those who still hope for support from Pakistan. They would also realize that Modi won over leaders of other SAARC countries including Afghanistan. And that Pakistan can no longer block cooperation and development between the rest of the member countries through bilateral or multi-lateral agreements. The isolation of Pakistan in Kathmandu will hit hard the pro-Pak elements in J&K. This development would be beneficial to the BJP. It will in any case be in a position to influence. So, all is not lost for the saffron party.
It could become a catalyst of drastic change in J&K politics and a major milestone in the history of the troubled State.
All the political parties that have ruled the State so could—or had no desire– neither tackle the separatists nor the radicalised segment in the valley in particular. The prime reason for their failure has been vote politics and wrong understanding of secularism.
But now following the total collapse and paralysis of the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference and Congress coalition government during the worst-ever floods, the Chief Minister, appears to have no prospect of getting re-elected.
The Gandhis have been making much noise but, according to reports, have already given up the fight in J&K and in Jharkhand where too election is scheduled to be held.
Sources say that Shah has held meetings with Gujjars, and about 11 of the likely candidates have agreed to support BJP if a few are accommodated in the Cabinet and generally given certain respect. The Gujjar Community Association has unanimously passed that the community would support BJP.
Whatever happened or is happening or would happen, what is certain is that BJP has entered the Valley and therefore the J&K politics will no longer remain a monopoly between Congress, PDP and NC.
Kashmir’s political landscape and power games will change.
By VIjay Dutt