BJP has additional responsibility in J&K

Arun Joshi

BJP has added to its responsibilities after celebrating the draft report of the Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir, which has proposed six more seats for Jammu, and only one from the Valley.  The very celebrations by the saffron party show it quite unambiguously that it is happy over the allocation of more seats to the region, which had made it win 25 out of 37 seats in the last Assembly elections in 2014 when  Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh defined the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is pinning hopes that the Hindu-dominated parts of the Jammu region will vote for it only, and at the same time, it also shows that it has little or no hopes from the Valley voters. The Valley had summarily rejected BJP candidates in the last Assembly elections in 2014 and parliamentary polls of  2014 and 2019.

The current position brings Jammu’s seats to 43, and that of the Valley from 46 to 47.  Though the valley still has more seats than the Jammu region, but Valley has more parties, while  BJP enjoys overwhelming support in the Jammu region.  Congress is virtually defunct, and in the Muslim-dominated areas, in five out of 10 districts, Kashmiri parties, National Conference and PDP have their respective strongholds. BJP is not taking that into consideration, as in 2014 it had won in the Muslim-dominated areas too, where the Muslim vote had split and the Hindus voted overwhelmingly for BJP.   By now the picture has changed the Muslim voters are consolidated, though they are silent, but they, as the assessment has been made will vote for their community members.

The draft report of the Delimitation Commission, it is expected, is primer to the final report, as the only dissenting note is coming from the National Conference, which is in the commission because it has three elected members to the Lok Sabha, rest all are with the draft report.  That will be a win-win scenario for BJP that hopes to cash on the slogan of “ justice for Jammu”. It hopes that it will make a clean sweep on all the 43 seats of the region. So, it is sensing the government formation, and as is natural for it to believe that it will have chief minister from the BJP, and that too from Jammu. This, in essence means, means Hindu  Chief Minister in the Muslim-majority Jammu and  Kashmir.

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BJP has all the things going in its facour . These circumstances, obligate it to an added responsibility, to demand and press for early elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Himalayan territory that has been without any legislative body now for more than three-and-half years. If this remains silent on this issue and keeps on banking on the theme that it is for the Election Commission to take the call, it will be proposing a self-defeating narrative for itself. It is bound to face questions,  when everything is in place and when the foremost pre-requisite for the polls, the delimitation of the constituencies has been made, why polls cannot be held? The long-advocated argument that there should be conducive situation for the elections has outlived its utility, as the fresh discourse is that terrorism is in decline and the conditions are welcoming for the development and investment by the business houses and real estate developers.

And more importantly, the point that can be overlooked at the risk of the saffron party losing its credibility is that all other parties, Congress, National Conference, PDP  are asking for the polls. The asking for polls is not a vote bank politics. Their demand is a definitive reflection of the aspirations of the people who are desperately looking for the polls to have an elected government.

BJP cannot escape its responsibility in reinvigorating the democratic process in J&K.

Arun Joshi is a Senior Journalist, Political Analyst based in Jammu and Kashmir. He has authored four books, including, “Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War”. He has worked with Hindustan Times, The Times of India, The Indian Express and The Tribune, and visited several countries to deliver lectures on Kashmir issue and international affairs.

Views expressed are personal

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