Politics and Power

For many years, indeed decades, parties that have governed J&K are not the ones that have been in power. This is the underlying tragedy of the state. Most of the time, this has meant that the party is unrepresentative of the people and that those in government have been puppet regimes foisted by the Government of India.
But there are many more dimensions to the problem. One of the problems, coming to the fore at present, is that no political party is that can legitimately be called the pan-J&K party. All political parties of the state are now sub-regional parties. Here, while National Conference has shrunk, the growth of PDP has been stunted. The net result is that both are confined to the valley. Indeed, PDP is a south Kashmir party and NC is a central and partially north Kashmir party.
This is not totally unique to J&K. Even at the national level, we do find that Congress, which once used to be the national party, is now confined to a few states. So is BJP. Not to speak of the Left which has never grown beyond the confines of Bengal and Kerala.
However, the critical difference is that while there is the emergence of a bipolar coalition at the Centre, no such formations are present or possible in J&K. What is particularly worrying is that while the Kashmir valley is getting fragmented across three parties – NC, PDP and Congress, Jammu is getting divided among only two major political players, BJP and Congress. Ladakh is now on its own.
The PDP’s strategy of getting into its fold the Muslims of Jammu Province by focusing on Rajouri, Poonch and erstwhile Doda, may get it some electoral gains, it is fraught with risks as it will totally communalise the state.
The manner in which regionalisation is getting reflected in the political matrix of the state, it may set the stage for the bifurcation or trifurcation of the state. This is something that can not be allowed to happen.
The only way out of this is for the main political parties to secularise their agenda and broaden their geographical base. It has to be extensive and inclusive politics rather than intensive and exclusivist agenda. For the NC it means going back to Sheikh Abdullah era and for the  PDP it means looking beyond its nose. The sooner this is done, the better it is for the state.

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