Having been associated with Kashmir for a long time especially during turmoil, Justice (retd) Rajindar Sachar in his first response to the verdict suggests a Muslim Chief Minister for J&K in a BJP-PDP alliance saying a Hindu Chief Minister can complicate a solution for Kashmir issue.
The exercise of forming the government in J&K is posing a delicate situation as no single party can form the government on its own. BJP for all its broad developmental propaganda totally failed to make any dent except in Jammu where it got a 93% of votes polled as against Kashmir where it got miserable 4% and Ladakh even where Buddhists are in large numbers its share in only 2.39%. BJP has got out of total 87 seats 25 seats in Jammu region but nil in Kashmir region.
So here is the unfortunate situation where no party has not only got a majority but the two regions of J & K have voted sharply differently. PDP with 28 seats has to have coalition with other parties like National Conference (15) and Congress (12). But there is too much personality clashes amongst the leaders of these parties to obtain workable solution. That apart, they will be falling over with each other to retain their support in Kashmir valley with the resultant absence of participation from Jammu, the majority Hindu area.
Historically J & K represents the enviable civilization and culture of both Hinduism and Islam for centuries. Which place is so holy and fortunate enough to have the holy strand of Hair of Prophet of Islam and at the same time of Shiv Linga of Hindus which is an occasion for Amar Nath yatra every year, Temple dedicated to Shankracharya the greatest exponent of Hinduism. With all this complex situation a workable solution can only be coalition of PDP and BJP (however distasteful for people like me who believe the BJP policy of developmental propaganda is a chimera and its inability to openly condemn the ugly Communal activities of Mohan Bhagwat and his disciples who are bent on spreading communal poison); But notwithstanding my personal views, the peculiar circumstances of Kashmir require a special strategy.
It is for this purpose that the odd suggestion of BJP/ PDP coalition in Jammu & Kashmir may be the better solution for avoiding Governors role. In this the personality of PDP leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is very important as he has worked with BJP in NDA Government in 1990.
I believe talks are going on between National Conference and BJP with efforts to rope in some independents. But this combination will hurt the sentiments of Kashmir, who have thrown out National Conference. Of course BJP is trying its best at this solution because it hopes that it will get its Chief Minister from Jammu Region, who will inevitably be a Hindu. I believe this scenario is the most dangerous for J&K and will make any permanent solution of J&K impossible. I have no hesitation in saying that both on principle and practical politics Chief Minister of J & K has to be from Kashmir region and a Muslim. This is not communalism but appreciation of ground reality of the historical peculiar situation of J&K. (In similar situation in pre independence in Punjab General elections 1946, Congress had the largest number in coalition but the Prime Minister (as he was then called in States) was the Muslim Unionist Party leader Khizar Hayhat Khan.) BJP / PDP combine will bring a representative character and will be a source for removing misunderstanding between the two regions. Of course before PDP and BJP can enter into a pact some absolute pre-conditions will have to be accepted by BJP which un till now with its small partisan politics has made BJP adopt policies which are not permissible under our Constitution, namely abrogation of Article 370. The result has been its total alienation in the valley. The results clearly show that sentiment still prevails – notwithstanding Modi’s repetitive visits to the valley with his trumpet of development programme and the sly avoiding of mention of Article 370 it still brought a zero result in the valley. BJP must understand that the dignity and self respect of the people of valley of Kashmir is tied to the non abrogation of Article 370. It is not as if Article 370 is the only exception. Article 371 provides for special responsibility of the Governor for establishment of a separate development for Saurashtra and Kutch (in Gujarat) and Vidharba in Maharashtra for equitable allocation of funds for development of the area. No objection by BJP was ever raised even when Modi was the Chief Minister.
Article 371G introduced by Constitution (55th Amendment Act 1986) provides that no Act of parliament in respect of ownership and transfer of land shall apply to the State of Mizoram unless the legislative Assembly of State of Mizoram by a resolution so decides. This provision is identical to Article 370 of the constitution regarding J&K BJP was a party to above amendment. Why does BJP apply double Standard in the case of Muslim majority State of Jammu & Kashmir.
It needs to be appreciated that retention of Article 370 is a matter of self respect and honour and assertion of its distinct identity for people of J&K. Can not BJP, even when most of Parties in J&K are desirous of finding a lasting solution, be statesman enough to give up its opposition to Article 370 – which no Kashmiri can possibly agree to abrogate.
It is true that if the communal activity of RSS and allied bodies going ahead with their lunatic activities of Ghar Vapas, the silent collusion with Hindu Maha Sabha of praise of Godse, the murderer of Gandhiji are not strictly suppressed, Modis efforts at coalition with PDP will be an impossibility.
BJP must consider consequences of J&K not getting genuine elected majority of valley in the Jammu and Kashmir Government. This will spread further disillusionment. Notwithstanding that Army under electoral pressure on BJP was quick enough to admit and take action against its army officers for false encounters. But BJP Central government alone can give confidence to the people of J&K especially of the Kashmir valley that human Right violations by the State or the army will be severely dealt with. This can only be done by the Coalition Government of BJP / PDP. Is BJP especially Modi willing to show that statesmanship.
About the Author: Justice Rajinder Sachar is Chief Justice (Retd.) High Court of Delhi, Chairperson Prime Minister’s High Level Committee, On Status of Muslims (Ex.), UN Special Rappoetuer on Housing, Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (Ex.), President, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) India (Ex.)