Modi-nised Kashmiris!

Modi’s campaigning blitzkrieg apart, Kashmir is sceptically weighing his possible elevation to highest seat of power in India. But there are a few for whom development is better index than human rights. Shah Abbas analyzes the change

BJP-faces-from-Kashmiri-Valley
BJP’s Kashmir faces: GM Mir, Mushtaq Ahmad Malik and Fayaz Ahmad Bhat

Ever since Modi came into limelight as the Prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, he and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee are prominently dominating the references in Kashmir. Some separatists who call the elections as “a non-issue” are talking about Modi and Vajpayee while their ‘colleagues’ are busy running campaigns for poll boycott in a situation where more and more people are joining the election fray.

Unionists like the PDP and the NC have changed their election stance as they are directly and indirectly asking for votes in the name of K-issue. PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed almost at every election rally promises “Kashmir resolution if voted to power” and Dr Farooq and his Chief Minister son talk of “Political resolution and peace between India and Pakistan”.

The fresh position of both the largest regional parties has by and large vindicated the stand of those separatist amalgams and parties who stress upon poll boycott by not offering any Bijli, Pani, Sadak and instead trying to exploit the ‘K’ word as always.

To the surprise of many, Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, believes that BJP’s prime ministerial nominee, can address both the internal and external dimensions of the “problem.”

It is not only the politicians of Kashmir who are day in and day out hymning Modi, Vajpayee and the BJP , Modi as well is somehow giving importance to the “important” state of India. He came to Jammu for his “Lalkaar” and opted to start “Vijay Bharat” from the city of Temples.

In what may be called a big development on part of Modi vis-à-vis Kashmir, octogenarian separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani on Friday revealed that BJPs Prime Ministerial candidate sent “his two men” to him while he was in New Delhi and offered a “forward step” if he (Geelani) supports him (Modi).

Geelani even apprehended that those who “praise” Modi by issuing statements might have been contacted by NaMO, but he was not sure about it. “If it is true then I am sorry for why did they hid it,” he said.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate has even started wooing entrepreneurs in the Kashmir Valley as well, after reaching out to local Muslim businessmen in and around Ahmadabad.

An all Muslim businessmen delegation from Jammu and Kashmir is set to visit Gujarat and meet Modi. Comprising four or five young Muslim entrepreneurs, the delegation intends to learn about Gujarat’s success as well as explore ‘linkages’ with the state.

Led by Sheikh Khalid Jehangir, recently inducted into the BJP by Modi at a rally in Hira Nagar, Jammu, the delegation represents sectors like power, hospitality and food processing.

“We have been influenced by Modi’s development work in Gujarat. Muslims here believe he can be a better prime minister and bring economic development to Jammu and Kashmir, said Jehangir, adding, “If Muslims from Jammu and Kashmir support Modi and his vision, Muslims in other states also must support him since he is pro-economy, pro-governance and pro-humanity.”

Sources said that the delegation will include Sajid Farooq Shah, CEO of Comrade Hotels Pvt Ltd; Asif Rishi, MD of Shaheen Agro Pvt Ltd; Ifshan Khanday, tourism and hospitality entrepreneur; and Mohsin Fayaz, director of SA Power Utilities Pvt Ltd and Gemini Energy Pvt Ltd.

Dr Farooq Abdullah and Saif-ul-din Soz
Dr Farooq Abdullah and Saif-ul-din Soz

“You have to move away from communal lines and look at growth. We have been hearing about Gujarat’s growth and we, too want to be part of this development. We want Kashmir to benefit from Gujarat and create linkages with the state,” said Sajid Farooq Shah of Comrade Hotels.

After roping in the Task Force founder and recently retired IGP Farooq Khan, the BJP decided to contest on all the three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir. Party fielded G M Mir from North Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmad Malik from South Kashmir, and Fayaz Ahmad Bhat from Central Kashmir constituencies, respectively.

Malik is a resident of Khuro Batepora, D H Pora, from district Kulgam. With no political family background, Malik is the state president of Muslim Morcha, (Minority Morcha) of BJP in J&K. A matriculate, Malik claims affiliation with the BJP since 1997. A hotelier by profession, 41 years old Malik runs National Hotel, situated in posh Raj Bagh area in Srinagar.

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has fielded Fayaz Ahmed Bhat, from Srinagar seat for upcoming Lok Sabha elections after its candidate nominee for the seat resigned citing ‘certain objections’ with BJP election manifesto. Hailing from Qazigund area of South Kashmir’s Islamabad district, Fayaz Bhat who runs an NGO, Jammu and Kashmir Peace Foundation (JKPF) claimed that he never approached the party high command for the mandate. “I am the founder member of Kashmir unit of the BJP and have contested election on BJP ticket in 1999.”

G M Mir, who has been fielded as a candidate for Baramulla seat, is a resident of Rajwar Handwara, in district Kupwara. Ex Deputy Director Horticulture Kashmir, Mir, voluntarily retired from his government service in 2007. He contested 2008 state assembly polls on PDP ticket from Handwara and lost before switching over to BJP.

Bhartia Janta Party’s election manifesto has brought Kashmir issue once again in the limelight. The harsh reaction against it brought National Conference and Congress further closer apart from making it clear that Opposition PDP will not be in a position of endorsing each and every policy of BJP. Every unionist party in one voice is busy condemning the BJP’s promise to abrogate whatever has been left in Article 370 if voted to power.

When in April 1999 Saif-ul-din Soz shocked his then party, National Conference, by pulling down the 13 month old BJP led NDA coalition at the centre, Omar Abdullah had to lose his union ministry. Soz was expelled from NC.

Unpredictability of political relations is proved once again as Soz and his old party leaders, NC’s Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah are together trying to fight Modi wave (if any). They are issuing statements on daily basis favouring each other.

 The manifesto of the BJP also created a huge reaction in Kashmir. NC and Congress apparently tried to appease the majority Muslim voters of the state by stating that “abrogation of Article 370 is not possible without questioning the state’s accession with India.” PDP on the other hand strongly came against it saying “Article 370 is irreversible and irrevocable.”

On the other hand, peacenik Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and his team is “hopeful” about Modi who is known for his tough and more nationalistic stance on matters of security and foreign policy.

Pertinently, justifying NC’s support to BJP in 1999, minister in UPA cabinet Dr Farooq Abdullah argued that BJP was not a communal party. He had remarked, “If they are accused of demolishing the Babri mosque, one should see who was ruling the country then and what they did to stop demolition.” And when Soz, voted against BJP Omar Abdullah had said, “he (Soz) had been pursing personal politics than party interest.”

Interestingly, Dr Farooq had declared support for the BJP during a confidence vote on the same day he tabled autonomy report in the state assembly.

“National Conference has always remained cautious not to annoy any New Delhi regime ever since 1984 when its government was toppled by GM Shah, with active support of Congress,” a political commentator said, adding, “this policy has practically paid rich dividends to the party.”

And now in 2014, the same National Conference is in a seat sharing agreement with Congress whose founder leader, late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had called the congress leaders as “Gandhi Nali kay Kiday” and even its foot-in-mouth Additional General Secretary, Mustafa Kamal used the term many times in 2013.

This is the third alliance between NC and Congress since 1987 when allegedly most rigged state assembly elections were held followed by a bloody armed revolt against India.

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