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J-K Polling

 

Satya Pal Singh. Editorial. I. I. XV

 

FOES AND HICCUPS IN J-K !

 



Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld By Satya Pal Singh



 

Indian Prime Minister Modi

 

 

PDP leader Mufti Mohd Sayed

Questions are being persistently raised by some sections why Bharatiya Janata Party is so keen on having a "dominant and decisive" say in the formation of government in Jammu and Kashmir and why the non-BJP stake-holders are showing ambivalence in coming together to keep the saffron party out of power. Both questions sound apparently silly and smack of prejudices that have taken a heavy toll of Kashmiri polity for long which, more or less, played through the whims of Kashmir valley operators who erroneously believed that the valley region constituted the main voice of the state with Jammu and Ladakh playing an insignificant role. If there are 97% Muslims in the sparsely populated valley, Jammu has upwards of 70% Hindus in much greater density. What a pot-pourri of nonsense and ignoble bias valley's domineering groups arrogated to dish out, much to the chagrin of the people in non-Kashmir valley regions who hardly throw their weight about!


After the election results were out over a week ago, leaders of Peoples Democratic Party with 28 seats in the assembly and National Conference with just 15, themselves traditional foes, surprisingly went into brain-storming sessions, exploring the ways to be in power, may be with or without the support of Congress that bagged 12 seats. This has been an exercise patently in projecting BJP as anathema and a fanatical communal party which had no takers in the valley. They conveniently forgot that BJP is ruling at the Centre after receiving a massive national mandate. Maybe, they thought the rest of India is politically naive, incapable of making proper assessments of organizations and their operating elites. 


However, every time these non-BJP groups secretly tried to inch their way forward to forge an alliance in post-poll days, they went flat under the weight of their senseless, aggressively assertive moves. Here, the same, old question emerges : Can the two regional political foes who have for long nurtured hostility work together without hiccups ?


The messy talk of PDP banking on a "grand secular alliance" of PDP, NC and Congress, which appears to have been floated more to bring pressure on BJP than to go about the job of placing a credible regime before an aspiring people is amusing, to say the least. Political pundits, including Kashmiri Muslims, see this as an abhorrent move to shower disrespect on the electorate that has summarily rejected the NC-Congress alliance, among other factors, due to their misrule, corruption and insensitivity to the sufferers of recent flood disaster that took a deadly toll of human lives and resources. Won't that mean reinstalling in ruling positions the set of the very "inhumane" politicos who had cruelly pushed them to face miseries in the wake of floods and extremist violence ? Had the Army not turned the eventual saviour, floods would have devastated the major part of the state. The onus of keeping NC and 


Congress out of power, therefore, lies morally with PDP, but the party looks disinclined to move, in its bid to keep BJP, the second largest party in the assembly with 25 MLAs, out of power.PDP supremos, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti seem adamant that by virtue of their highest tally in the assembly, they are entitled to be in the driver's seat, hold chief minister's position and be in the saddle for six years, oblivious of the fact that the voters have delivered a fractured mandate, requiring the hopefuls to reach consensus on the modalities of government formation, throwing away their idiosyncratic postures so far amply displayed in their bland rhetoric. The fact remains that in a highly credible democratic exercise in J-K the first time, Kashmiris have rejected NC's electoral claim, Omar Abdullah's corrupt regime and have also given a sharp rebuff to PDP leaders, who had surprisingly harbored hopes of their party winning absolute majority. To their rude shock, they got short-circuited at 28 seats, just three more than BJP’s tally of 25. The Muftis know their limitations, so they want to wrest some concessions from BJP through the intervention of party patron former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee.


The phenomenon of NC-Congress rout is explained by the fact that majority of Kashmiris now hate separatists who were directly or indirectly emboldened by the ruling elites of yesteryear, more specifically by outgoing CM Omar Abdullah. The Muftis themselves, leading from opposition yards, may not have lagged far behind. Like former separatist leader Sazad Lone, majority of Kashmiri Muslims now stay wary of secessionist elements ; they want peace, security, adequate avenues for growth and development in the state. They wish to have a bright future for their children and are shuddered at the very thought of a "separate Kashmir", believing that one day Pakistan, where reign of terror and bloody violence have flourished unchecked, would occupy their land, bringing in a notorious era of bloodshed, terror and blackmail that is witnessed in the neighboring country every now and then.


These leaders have ostensibly failed to grasp the complexity of this mandate that simultaneously invites BJP to share power as a major partner, help develop the state and resolutely fight the menace of secessionist terrorism, mounted by a minuscule Pakistan-instigated separatists. Clearly, the unprecedented, high percentage of vote, despite threats from gun-toting extremists, was exclusively not for PDP and NC, but was for a drastic change in the fate of Kashmiri people. And the format of that shift now beckons BJP to herald an era of peace, unity and development which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised before and after the elections.


The sooner PDP and its yet unknown supporting allies realize the complexity of the situation the better. They must respect the mandate and come forward to form a stable, working coalition to avoid imposition of President's rule, especially when BJP is reconciled on  deputy CM’s position. This is not to say that contentious issues, such as article 370, AFSPA and a few others, that figure as a major roadblock in the PDP-BJP alliance, have conclusively disappeared. But these certainly don't show up anywhere in BJP's amalgam of the projected blueprint. Narendra Modi knows that raking up controversial issues at an inopportune time would weaken his position. In a coalition, it becomes well neigh difficult to press issues that bring discomfort to the ruling partners. So, these issues are dead at the moment.

 

But then, given the obtaining situation, the aspirants must reach an agreement quickly, so that Delhi is not painfully replicated in Jammu and Kashmir. Why can't they agree on a common minimum programme in 'give and take' spirit?' BJP as the national party ruling at the Centre has greater responsibility in accommodating PDP, at least in recognition of the mandate the latter has received. This will facilitate also the breaking of whatever esoteric links the regional outfit may have forged with separatist forces. It's time for the Muftis to realize that BJP alone can bridge the horrific emotional chasm that presently exists among the regions of Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh.


We can’t lose sight of certain essentials, one being that terrorist and separatist-infested Jammu and Kashmir, especially the valley, need a strong regime capable of providing steel-frame security to Kashmiris with limited military presence, besides jobs and wherewithal to youth who have been experiencing restlessness and desperation in recent years. Already, due to riots, political tension, military involvement, extremist violence and changes in economic parameters, many religious communities had moved out of the Kashmir region and settled in the neighboring states. This process continued over the years and most of it took place before creation of the borders. Of all the communities, the worst sufferers have been the Hindu Pandits, mainly because of their status in society. Close to 95% Kashmiri Pandits had to leave the valley when brutal militancy took over in 1990.


The J-K mandate 2014 comes as a godsend opportunity for the Kashmiri people to have good governance and deliveries from a PDP-BJP regime with some privileged dispensation  from the BJP-ruled Centre. BJP has also a very vital role in building the much-needed emotional rapport between Hindu-dominated Jammu and the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. But this deliverance will come only if the political leadership properly weighs in the opportunity's potential and start working in right earnest, discarding the pulls of one-upmanship!

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