The caption of this opinion piece is not in context with the recent victory of BJP in Gujarat, Congress reclaiming Himachal Pradesh and expansion of AAP in Delhi and Gujarat. This all was projected by the exit polls. The caption is related to the larger question of political void which is prevailing after stripping of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.
In absence of an elected government for the last 3 years many political changes have erupted in both divisions of J&K. As a result, these recent victories across the country seem less interesting than the political situations here. To start talking about this political churning process is the fact that most powerful pro-Pakistan voices in Kashmir have gone silent after 2019. For PDP, the fight is only to claim its political territory back, but nothing seems to serve the cause. The Apni Party is trying hard to find all possible ways to get on ground political recognition, but many complications like the J&K People’s Conference stand in their way in Kashmir.
Besides, many political leaders and workers are changing loyalties in the UT. Some politicians succumb to the temptation and get attracted by the rewards to save their political careers. But changing sides is nothing new in J&K. However, this was not witnessed on such a large-scale as seen after 2019. Fast-changing politics of Jammu region too has become a reality. After Ghulam Nabi Azad forming his own party and Devender Singh Rana joining the BJP, the Congress and National Conference is in its one of the weakest political periods in Jammu. While this all happened, BJP has grown in the Jammu region so much so that it has made its chief ministerial ambitions public in J&K.
Opposition leaders haven’t been able to build unity against the BJP to stop them from making Jammu region its bastion. Opposition is busy in photo ops and couldn’t become BJP’s challenger in the Jammu region. But talking about opposition unity is one thing and achieving it is another thing.
Because all opposition leaders have their own Chief Ministerial ambitions, it’s even more unlikely that they will lend support to each other. A divided opposition is perhaps one of the significant reasons behind the growth of BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. Right now, the question is: who will challenge BJP? As Delimitation is done and new voters are added there is not much time left for opposition before the BJP starts political drive in J&K based on PM Modi’s charisma. As the general mood is in the BJP’s favour, the BJP would want to take its advantage. In such a situation, politics of polarization won’t work in Jammu by any potential anti-Modi front at this stage for obvious reasons. There could possibly be a pre-poll opposition front or post-poll front to stop BJP but it’s easier said than done. However, this all would be evident only once elections in Jammu and Kashmir are announced.
This takes us back to think how complex the politics in J&K has become, since leaders are already spelling out their visions for new Jammu and Kashmir. We must not forget that both voters and non- supporters have a very thin line between them. Many people have nothing to do with any political party but after the election, the results impact all of us. And it’s not all politicians’ fault because there are many problems and flaws in the Indian political system. The truth is that J&K cannot be left for politicians and political parties. For sure, whichever government comes to power in Jammu and Kashmir every citizen should get equal rights, security and respect as it’s an ‘alliance of people’.
(The author is BSL, LLB, LLM, PGDHRM, Ph.D)