Flag politics

Umair Haqani
In the run up to the republic day, Kashmir is usually tense with manifold increase in security forces’ deployment. Every year security checks, frisking and surprise checks are carried out and the main venue of the republic day function- Bakshi Stadium – is secured well in advance.

The venue is kept out of bounds for many days to keep the function incident free. Even the mobile and internet services are stopped to help the security effort.

The Bhartiya Janata Party’s plans to hoist a Tricolour at Lal Chowk can be easily termed as a well calculated ploy of political expediency aimed at playing to the larger vote bank outside Jammu and Kashmir. The right wing party has a history of taking up controversial issues and its leaders making inflammatory speeches. Many a times they have whipped passions which lead to disastrous consequences. When Kashmir has barely returned to some semblance of normalcy after an almost five month long unrest that claimed more than 115 civilian lives, the least any sane political party could have done was to avoid provocation or inflaming passions.

May be to expect that from national politicians and political parties is a bit too much. Each and every party, even the so called national parties, have been accused of serious corruption charges and lack of integrity at different times. This year scores of multi-crore rupees scams have surfaced and no heads have rolled. Does this all say anything about the moral, ethical and financial integrity of the politicians and those claiming to be the democratically elected representatives of people? How does it reflect on the country which always boasts about its election process and claims to be world’s largest democracy? Not nicely, we suppose.

Seeing the BJP’s plan to hoist Tricolour at Lal Chowk in this context, it can be assumed that the political party cannot be expected to care about the sensitivity of the situation and refrain from resorting to provocation, which can vitiate the atmosphere and lead to loss of life. A march of BJP youth wing workers from Kolkatta to Srinagar was flagged off by party president Nitin Gadkari on January 12.

The party wants to re-establish its vote bank by giving an impression to the masses throughout India that they are establishing the writ of the Indian nation in Kashmir besides establishing itself as a party that has uncompromising views on Jammu and Kashmir and national security. Many people will fall for the argument as in India there are more than more than 800 million people who live on less than Rs 20 a day and do not have access to basic amenities or education or reliable news source.

It is difficult for anybody to explain to them that raising a flag would not change anything on ground except raising troubles for the Omar Abdullah-led state government. It is immaterial whether the day passes off without any loss of life or any major incident as it has already captured the popular imagination here as well as outside making the BJP gain from it from the sheer nuisance value it carries.

Though some would argue that it will be one more flag at the Lal Chowk among the hundreds that are flown there every now and then.

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