Modi Effect

Modi’s growing popularity and Congress’ dismal performance in four states recently has triggered crises of sorts in Kashmir’s unionist camp. BJP’s re-emergence in Jammu has left both NC and PDP in a fix. Shah Abbas, analyzes the pre-poll anxiety

Mufti-Syed-Sonia-Gandhi-Omar-AbdullahHistory seems repeating itself for ruling National Conference (NC) in Jammu and Kashmir. In 1977, when late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was ruling J&K in alliance with Congress, Indira Gandhi lost her Lok Sabha seat. Sheikh had started issuing statements against the Congress just after the defeat of Indira angering her to the extent that she withdrew her support for Sheikh.

This time it is not the Chief Minister, but his uncle and foot in mouth NC Additional General Secretary, Mustafa Kamal who has increased his Congress bashing manifold after the Congress met humiliating defeat during recently held Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Political scientists are of the opinion that a massive and landslide victory for Bhartia Janta Party (BJP) in the said three States could definitely affect the political fortunes in Jammu and Kashmir, as well.

According to Political pundits, BJP’s win in the four states is likely to lead the party to power in Centre. The party which was seen as the runner-up in the Parliament has practically changed its feel and colour after Modi’s annointment as Prime Ministerial candidate.

The Modi effect can be clearly established by the fact that Congress failed to do any wonders in Rajasthan, where Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies. Contrary to this, BJP won 16 out of the 20 seats in the areas where Modi had addressed largely attended public rallies.

Political commentators are of the opinion that it is something which is likely to happen in the Jammu and Kashmir especially in Jammu after the massive rally of Modi on December 1this year.

The ruling National Conference and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) know that they can’t ever form a government on their own so both are hoping for a ride on Congress.

Apparently, in this backdrop and in a bid to please Congress High Command, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on December 13 called on Congress President and UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.

According to a statement issued later, Omar Abdullah reiterated National Conference’s (NCs) continuous support to UPA and said “the bonds of relations between the two will get further strengthened in the coming days.”

But the fact on ground is that with the future of Congress uncertain after the polling results in four states came out recently, both NC and PDP are left in a sticky situation.

NC and Congress now realize the change in Central government is alarming and there is every possibility of Modi becoming the next Prime Minister as BJP has put up credible show in the said four states comprising 74 Parliamentary seats.

Political commentators feel that a changed government at the centre before the J&K Assembly elections could change political equations in Kashmir as well. It is an open secret now that Central government’s nod in making a government in the state is significant.

A near safronization of the four states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh and Delhi has already stimulated a sense of innovation in the state’s BJP office in J&K, which got unprecedented 11 seats in the State Legislative Assembly in 2008, but it was reduced to mere four member party after it expelled seven of its MLAs following cross voting debacle in the last held  elections to the Legislative Council.

While Modi’s ‘Lalkar Rally’ was the best thing to have happened to the party’s rank and file since then, party has started fencing its chances in both Assembly as well as Parliamentary elections. BJP has also been encouraged by the huge anti Congress wave across the country.

The election wind has already started blowing across the state with both NC and PDP, the principal regional parties in J&K declaring their candidates for the Parliamentary elections.

The picture became more or less complete with the statement of the Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad ruling himself out as the candidate from Udhampur-Doda constituency and reiterating that Lal Singh shall seek re-election from the seat. According to sources, Congress is also likely to repeat Madan Lal from Jammu-Poonch seat.

Sources in the BJP, if believed, suggest that while Dr Jatinder Singh, Shamsher Singh Manhas and Dr Nirmal Singh, have been staking their claims from the Kathua-Udhampur-Doda seat, sitting MLAs Ashok Khajuria and Jugal Kishore Sharma besides Satpal Sharma and Chanderprakash Ganga have been staking claims for party mandate for Jammu-Poonch Seat.

With Parliamentary elections likely early next year and Assembly elections getting due a few months later, there is a probability of both the elections being held concurrently – a preposition that BJP would be weighing more advantageous in the current political scenario.

Congress leaders, Professor Saif-ul-din Soz and senior Ministers in Omar led coalition government were seen totally upset not only over the election results of the four states but more because they were no more in a position to dictate terms to the National Conference with whom the party is sharing power in the state.

Have NC and PDP started distancing themselves from the UPA following the results of the Assembly elections in four states?

The election results in the four states seem to have convinced everybody in NC and PDP that Congress is no longer unbeatable. They believe that the Congress is so much vulnerable to light storms that a year old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by Arvind Kejriwal, routed it in Delhi.

Now NC and PDP are trying to walk cautiously in view of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, due in 2014. For NC, the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s latest tweets are an indication.

“Notes to self for 2014 – big public meetings don’t always mean votes but poorly attended ones definitely indicate big trouble,” Omar tweeted.

Pertinently, poorly attended rallies had been a major concern for the ruling Congress as its leading face Rahul Gandhi campaigned in Delhi and some parts of Rajasthan.

“Notes to self for 2014 – voters will see through crude attempts to buy support with last minute populist schemes,” Tweeted Omar and signed off with this cut stone, “And perhaps last lesson for today #2014, a divisive message won’t work but you can’t fight an election with a Gandhian campaign either.”

The core of Omar’s tweets is that reflection of his changed idea about the invincibility and importance of the Congress.

Reports suggest that that the NC leadership may reconsider its plan of influencing the Congress for having a pre-poll alliance both during the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections. But many commentators call it a “compulsion” for Congress to have a pre-poll alliance in Jammu and Kashmir so that it can have only BJP to fight in Jammu.

However, the Congress high command may not be in a position now to dictate terms to Omar Abdullah. It may prefer to strengthen the alliance with the NC instead of going alone in the next elections.

The commentators are also of the opinion that contesting the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections in alliance with the Congress may prove problematic for the NC in the light of the dismal performance of the later in the recently held elections in four states.

Omar Abdullah rightly comments that even a new born political party can turn the tables against the established political organizations. “Notes to self for 2014 never underestimate the underdog/newcomer with a fresh face and message,” Omar said in an another tweet.

Election winds have also been strengthened by the huge rallies of octogenarian separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani as well who unequivocally stressed upon people to stay out of the process before being put under house arrest on December 5, foiling his Tral, Bandipora and Srinagar rallies.

However, Geelani’s recent anti-election rallies may not have much impact because of the fact that people would surely forget his appeal and huge rallies till 2014. Past practice suggests that Geelani will not be allowed to go for his anti-election campaigning during the election times which will surely enhance the overall voting turnover. And whom that will help, NC or PDP is a multi dollar question.

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