The tragedy of modern day alliance politics professed in a multi party system like in India is severely undermining the ideological commitments that used to define the spirit of political parties. Politics is known to make strange bed fellows, but with power being the sole criterion for regional as well as national parties in India, alliance politics is getting even dodgier. With these ideological foundations pushed to backburner, political parties who in normal circumstances seem to be oceans apart with regard to their professed ideological moorings, overnight become partners. This reflects the true character of what politics and politicians in India stand for. Power and only power and nothing else.
Bhartiya Janata Party and its ideological fountainhead the RSS has been quite clear as regards the future of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir; its complete merger with the union at par with other states by the abrogating of article 370. The much hated discourse of Atoot Ang. Infact within days of gaining power at New Delhi, a Jammu based member parliament stirred the hornets‘nest by raking up the issue of article 370. Before the issue could snowball into a major controversy, BJP lowered its ante by playing the verbal rhetoric obviously with an eye on state elections. Earlier it was Modi himself who during his campaign for state elections in Jammu remarked that article 370 needs to be debated, even though the issue wasn’t part of the state election manifesto.
On the issue of AFSPA, BJP has so far been harping Army’s tune; any move to dilute the law would undermine the security scenario of the state. The party has maintained this stand brushing aside internal and external pressures for the partial revocation of the draconian act. The tricky issue of WPR’s was also exploited by BJP in the run up to state elections and successfully played the card to increase the numbers in Jammu.
BJP’s 44 plus campaign in the state elections pushed people in valley to vote for PDP to keep the saffron out of power. There was a tacit green signal from the moderate separatist leadership to the people to vote. The valley’s major politico-religious party, to, many analysts, was hand in glove with PDP, of course with an understanding with people across the border.
With the PDP-BJP combine government in the state only a formality away, BJP definitely has comprised on most of the issues dear to it before elections. PDP seems to have taken home a historical bargain.
So far so good for PDP. But what has BJP gained in the alliance that is aimed to win hearts and minds? A deputy chief minister and 11 other colleagues in the council. And that’s all; status quo on article 370, removal of AFSPA in a phased manner, no state subject rights to WPRs, acknowledgement of separatists and resumption of dialogue with Pakistan.
The Agenda of Alliance does reflect the judicious arbitration on the part of BJP but it reflects the desperation of BPJ for power. In the 2014 elections BJP touched its zenith in the state and as per analysts the party’s performance in future will follow a downward slope. This ‘now or never’ chance constrained BJP’s options and weakened its position in its negotiations with PDP.
The recent history of Kashmir has been a story of surprises for insiders as well as outsiders and only time will tell what kind of surprise the Agenda of Alliance has in store for the state.
Postscript: please don’t read the punch line of the recent show casting Mehbooba and Amit Shaw ‘to win hearts and minds’ as the punch line of operation Sadbhavana of Indian Army. Even though both are facades but hopefully the two will mean different for oppressed Kashmiris.