It was Meant to Happen: The BJP — PDP Split

“Oh, Lizzy! Do anything rather than marry without affection.”

– Jane Austen, ‘Pride and Prejudice

Marriages of convenience seldom succeed, in politics as well as life. The ‘unholy’ alliance that happened between the BJP and PDP in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has finally broken apart. However, the fact that it took more than three years to happen has raised several questions, especially related to the timing and the ‘actual’ motive behind the decision.

In a press conference yesterday, Ram Madhav, the national General Secretary and also the J&K BJP chief, announced his party’s decision to come out of the Mehbooba Mufti led government in Jammu and Kashmir. The prime reason that he stated related to the failure of the state government to deliver on the twin promises of ensuring peace and development in the state. While arguing that it had become ‘untenable’ for the BJP to continue in this alliance further, he categorically pointed towards the inability of the chief minister to check growing radicalization in the state especially in the southern Kashmir region. He also went on to accuse the top PDP leadership of deliberately discriminating against the regions of Jammu and Ladakh. In a nutshell, the BJP General Secretary, in a very surprising manner though, tried to exonerate the BJP from any responsibility of this colossal failure to provide effective governance in the state.

But can the BJP run away from taking the blame?

It is noteworthy here to mention that both the BJP and PDP were “equal” partners in this alliance as they had almost equal share of ministries. While the seat of chief minister went to PDP, on account of it being the single largest party, the BJP got the seat of deputy chief minister. Also, the fact that BJP is in power in the centre made sure that the balance between PDP and BJP remained quite even. Hence, BJP’s claim to position itself on a moral high ground and absolve itself of any responsibility seems faulty at best and immoral at worst.

Three years of tragedy

Meanwhile, for the common people of Jammu and Kashmir the experience of the last three years has been full of pain and agony. The Kashmir valley has been on boil since the killing of HuM (Hizb-ul-Mujahideen) commander Burhan Wani in September 2016. The incidents that followed his death, from pellet gun injuries, the stone pelting youth that led to hundreds losing their sight permanently, to the vigorous military operations and intensified cross-border firing, all have contributed to the further worsening of the already precarious security situation in the state. The lesson, then, which must be learnt from the experience of last three years is that a muscular, high-handed, knee jerk, and military-centric policy cannot provide a sustainable solution to the Kashmir problem.

A recent study has also highlighted a correlation between the new terrorist recruits coming from areas nearing the sites of recent military operations. The probability of new recruits from such areas is disproportionately high in comparison to those coming from relatively peaceful areas. This also explains why certain districts of southern Kashmir have suddenly become the hotbed of terrorism and radicalization. The real issue, therefore, is of addressing the root cause i.e. alienation of the masses, especially the youth.

However unfortunately, this is where the Indian policy makers have failed miserably as they have not been able to distinguish between the nature of militancy of 1990s and militancy of post 2010 in Kashmir. Militancy of today is primarily home-grown and Islamic fundamentalism has become an important variable as is evident from the increasing number of educated muslim youth joining the ranks of militancy. The problem therefore isn’t just economic which can be solved by giving a hefty development package. It is one of winning the hearts and souls of the alienated youth. This will only happen when the hard posture will be supported by a genuine and honest initiation of political process.

The way forward

When two political parties with completely opposite ideologies, social constituencies, and vision come together to form a government, it is only a matter of time before they fall apart. Hence, what has happened now was in a way inevitable. Moving ahead, the policy makers need to identify the main causes behind this failure and indulge in a genuine course correction. From here on they must give up the approach of ‘managing’ the Kashmir problem and instead prioritize bringing long lasting peace to Kashmir. Political process must take the forward seat. New and innovative ways of tackling the new age cyber radicalization must also be devised.

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