Monday, February 23, 2015

No Ghar Wapsi for the PDP if it Fails to Deliver

Two political parties with totally incompatible ideologies are going to very soon announce the formation of a “popularly” elected government after reportedly agreeing for a common minimum programme. One wonders what can be the common minimum programme between such diametrically opposed parties. Probably some secret understanding as is usually common in different “family” members in the American context? They help each other to stay relevant as otherwise there is likely hood of theirs being swept away by the flood of popular sentiment as happened in Delhi. The virtual tsunami which swept away BJP from the “heart” of India, Delhi, needs to be offset. There is no better choice than to capture the “crown” of India at all costs! The present Indian state can put all the controversial issues on the back-burner temporarily, of course after having a tacit understanding with its mentors that the non-state actors can continue the refrain till a suitable and conducive atmosphere is attained. Losing Kashmir after having lost Delhi may start a tide in the reverse direction which BJP can ill afford at the present juncture. Because of this reality they seem to have agreed to all demands except the controversial ones which form their long term agenda. These have been reportedly shelved for the time being and this is being conveyed in a very diplomatic language leaving the door open for their resurrection at an appropriate time.
But the question is what PDP would be getting out of this alliance? The main plea has been that an alliance with a strong and stable central government alone has the possibilities of solving Kashmir’s immediate problems. Of course, the past experience has shown that Delhi can put the local government in Kashmir in a squeeze especially regarding funds for development as well as for day to day running. Whichever government comes to rule in Delhi has a different yardstick for Kashmir than all other states. There are no two opinions about it. But that is true for the governments which have been virtually installed by Delhi. A supposedly “popular” government should not normally have any such apprehensions as they can always take Delhi head on! However, it is also true if any government releases the purse strings, they do take their pound of flesh! PDP will have to bear in mind that they are borrowing money from Shylock!
With contentious issues on a temporary hold, there may be appreciable thrust in restoration and development as happened after the dethroning of Sheikh Abdullah and installation of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in 1953. However, the basic discontent will remain simmering under and could burst out like molten lava as happened in 1963/64 notwithstanding the fact that the trigger for such upheaval may be totally different. PDP will be doing a tight-rope walk and would have the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Their chief spokesperson while commenting on Omar Abdullah’s accusation of a sell-out, has said that the previous NC and Congress governments have left nothing in Kashmir to sell. He has promised to retrieve most of the sold things. One wishes him good luck especially in view of the ghar wapsiprogramme of the Hindutva brigade!
Kashmir could be once again at the cross-roads of history. In the recent times, it has been happening like that quite often since 1931. It is a fact that the 1931 agitation for basic rights was by the Muslim masses who were the sufferers for centuries. However, the movement was turned by the “leaders” into a nationalistic movement in 1938. That was the first cross road where they took the wrong turn as has been amply demonstrated by the happenings since then. Even now, it is the Kashmiri Muslims who are a worried lot. None of the present so called “leaders” have the courage to declare that the present problem principally pertains to the Muslims of Kashmir valley. It is they who are scared of BJP because of their declared intentions to integrate Kashmir fully and turn India into a Hindu State. These intentions have already been demonstrated by some actual happenings across India which has created apprehensions in the minds of the people. If PDP is able to stop this process as regards Kashmir and also end harassment of the people on the ground by the security forces armed with AFSPA, they may bring in some relief notwithstanding their lofty slogans of self-rule and so on. People opposing the alliance have to bear in mind that no mainstream party is in a position to demand fulfilment of the ultimate aspirations of Kashmiris. These parties can only try to end harassment and give good governance. Nothing beyond that! If they fail even in this, then they will have no ghar wapsi for themselves in Kashmir!

Friday, February 13, 2015


Cambridge dictionary defines the word “Popular” as “liked, enjoyed, or supported by many people”. As per this definition can any of the governments in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 be termed as “popular” governments? 

The first government of Sheikh Abdullah who was given the title of the “Lion of Kashmir” was an emergency government set up to strengthen the accession which the Maharaja had very reluctantly signed in those compelling circumstances. Even at that time most of the people had hesitatingly sided with the Sheikh Abdullah under the belief that he would lead them to the ultimate goal of freedom. However, the government soon became the most unpopular and very harsh measures had to be taken to suppress the unrest. The Jammu agitation for total integration of the state with the Indian Union resulted finally in its dismissal in 1953. 

Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad installed by Delhi opened the gates for free flow of money and material to Kashmiris who had been starved by Sheikh Abdullah because of his programme of making the State self-sufficient. Money was available to purchase loyalties. After that one after the other governments were installed to toe the Delhi line and suppress whatever semblance of self-respect and dignity was left in a Kashmiri. 

It is claimed that the only free and fair election in Jammu and Kashmir was in 1977 during the premiership of Morarji Desai. All other governments are alleged to have been installed, manipulated and virtually run from Delhi. 

Interestingly, the popularity of our present day leaders can be judged from the security they are provided. Gone are the days of these political leaders mixing freely with the public. They are now everywhere under layers and layers of security. Black cat commandos, Z plus security, bullet and mine proof vehicles; closed-circuit TV cameras and so on are parts of the modern security set ups. The leaders have become distant from their followers especially at the higher level there is a wide gulf. In such circumstances, how can these leaders be called part of a “popular” government? 

In the present context of a fractured mandate, can a government formed by two ideologically incompatible groups be called a “popular” government? Half of the government would be popular in the Valley while the other half would be popular in Jammu! In reverse, the Kashmir part would be unpopular in Jammu and vice versa. 

The popularity thus, will have to be redefined in case of Jammu and Kashmir. One wonders what sort of a common minimum programme can two ideologically poles apart parties give to the people! Kashmir valley represents extreme alienation from the Indian mainstream while the Jammu majority desires total and complete integration of the state with the Indian mainland. 

This contradiction that influenced extreme positions by the BJP and the PDP during the election campaign will tear both apart, sooner than later. Should not then the solution be a re-election after a year, Kejriwal style? Meanwhile the political parties should work to integrate the regions on a workable common minimum program. 

Delhi has set a trend, and an example. Just a years wait made all the difference. The popularity of Aam Aadmi Party swept away all the others in the fray. In no earlier elections anywhere has a political party taken 96% of the seats in an Assembly! This shows that patience backed by commitment and hard work definitely pay dividends in the end. 

The only example of such a massive mandate in Jammu and Kashmir is Sheikh Abdullah’s Assembly of his early days when all the members were supposed to have been returned “unopposed”! Same thing had occurred in Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad’s time. It would be interesting to wait for the common minimum programme supposedly being worked out by the two political parties aspiring to install a “popular” government in Jammu and Kashmir. Whether the government stays or goes, ‘popular government’ is a term that will have to be re-defined.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fresh elections- the only sensible choice!

The delay in government formation due to a fractured mandate and the doubts about the stability of an ideologically incompatible coalition leaves the only sensible choice – go back to the people.

Immediately after the declaration of the election results it was very clear that the people have given a fractured mandate. Mandate showed a regional divide with a strong communal overtone. Even though there were possibilities of a regional combine setting up a government yet the clash of families with bloated egos prevented such an occurrence. People were claiming to be keen to uphold the peoples’ mandate but were in fact looking at all permutations and combinations to capture political power. Many track-II dialogues were going on behind the scenes to somehow cobble together a government. There were two considerations given out for urgency in government formation. One is the development side where huge amounts of funds are required on which state is being falsely projected by the politicians very eager to form the government at all costs, to be totally at the mercy of the centre. The other is the basic political problem pending for a solution for over 60 years or so because of the failure to fulfil the basic aspirations of the local people. Almost all the regional parties had touched both issues in their mandates given to the people before the elections. After having been convinced that all mainstream parties had failed to move on the basic problem, the main consideration for the people in voting was to effect a change at least at the governance level. However, the entry of BJP-RSS combine with their Mission 44+ gave a shot in the arm to the valley people for massive participation as they were determined in preventing the entry of the saffron wave into Kashmir. They did very well succeed in this as all but one BJP candidates lost their deposits. However, the BJP-RSS combine are trying to enter the valley through the backdoor as has been the perennial misfortune of Kashmiris right from the Mughal times!
The famous constitutional expert A G Noorani in a series of articles in Greater Kashmir has made startling revelations especially about the Vajpayee’s Kashmir policy touted by many as a practical way forward for solving the decades old problem. Quoting from a letter to Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, he reveals how Vajpayee opposed the possible break through between Musharraf and Manmohan Singh on the issue! Vajpayee has only been a willing mukhota to hide the real intentions of BJP-RSS. According to A G Noorani if 1953 was a crime against Kashmir’s autonomy, 2015 would see a crime of saffronising the valley. A grand scale “Ghar Wapsi” for the “lost tribe” of the Hindutva whose present dwelling place is considered to be the crown of the Hindu Bharat Varsh! No doubt in earlier times Kashmir was a very famous Hindu Kingdom and the Saivite philosophy of the Trikka School was the highest spiritual thought in the ancient Hindu India. The famous Sharda University which was a seat of the highest learning especially the Hindu philosophy was situated in Kashmir. The RSS ideologues are not only dreaming about the glorious Hindu past of Kashmir but are seriously contemplating its resurrection through Mission 44+. However, they need to come out of their utopian dreams. Vitasta has turned into Jhelum and much water has flowed down the River. The ancient Hindu Kingdom cannot be resurrected by demographic changes. It has now become an abode of the saints who have been protecting it from all outside assaults through the ages! 
As pointed out by A G Noorani, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about the ultimate goal of the BJP-RSS combine. Their aim is to revive the Bharat Varsh, the ancient Hindu Kingdom of the Chandragupta Mauraya’s time and for achieving that objective, they have dozens of Kautaliyas working round the clock! This should be starkly evident from their campaign to remove the word “Secular” from the constitution of India. Even President Obama pointed out the fact of unrestrained Hindutva campaign in his speech quoting article 25 of the Indian Constitution which gives religious freedom to all the citizens. It was a subtle hint to Narendra Modi to restrain the Hindutva zealots running all over India to proclaim it as a country of Hindus only. According to Kuldeep Nayar, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi must be regretting why he invited Obama for the Republic Day. The latter made no secret of his distaste for the Sangh Parivar’s Ghar Wapsi slogan and the other programmes related to Hindutva ideology”.
While analysing various consequences of a BJP government in Kashmir, A G Noorani has very intricately outlined the possible consequences of a PDP-BJP (RSS) alliance for Kashmir and Kashmiris. He has made very damaging revelations about all Kashmiri leaders of different streams including the present group of politicians more than eager to get into the seat of power at all costs regardless of the long term consequences. The question is not whether a government can be clobbered together regardless of the ideological incompatibility of the alliance partners but how stable it would be and what would be its impact on the long term situation. It has often been opined that a strong and stable Central Government with Hindu leanings may be alone able to take decisive steps to solve Kashmir and other problems. This may be true but then the million dollar question is whether that government would be able to sell to the people of India the give and take which may be necessitated by such a solution? Leaving aside the long term consequences, the immediate fear is whether after the government formation, will the BJP-RSS combine be able to restrain the non-state actors from furthering their ultimate agenda regarding Kashmir? Mere intent of transferring land to Amarnath Shrine Board in 2008 toppled the then coalition government and created a massive upheaval. 
Any coalition government having BJP as a partner will have a Damocles’ sword hanging over their heads especially from the valley side. Any indication about the furthering of the controversial Hindutva agenda of the BJP-RSS combine will immediately trigger an upheaval in the valley. Fingers will have to be kept crossed for facing eventualities worse than 2008 and 2010. It has been observed by many that the militancy has been contained but the alienation is at the extreme. The Kashmiri youth are not only restive but have become very vociferous. They don’t even listen to the so called popular leaders at certain occasions and these leaders instead of leading have to follow the dictates of the youth. 
In view of these realities, it may be sensible to continue with the Governor’s rule for six months as provided in the constitution and then impose President’s rule for some more time to enable undertaking of restoration and rehabilitation work on a fast track without any political interference. We have already had six years central rule from 1990 to 1996. A couple of years more will not make a big difference. On the contrary, a capable and active governor with a dedicated administration can accelerate the whole process. After restoration and rehabilitation, one could go for fresh elections. It would be a better choice and one could   get a clear mandate from the people to have a stable government in future. The present plan of having a government at any cost will have a continuous suspense about various possibilities of sudden upheavals without any warning escalating into massive agitations. This would disturb the restoration as well as the peaceful atmosphere. The state politicians eager for government formation need to give a thought about these possibilities before rushing in to take over the seat of power! The Central Government if really sincere about Kashmir’s rehabilitation should keep their over eager followers to capture Kashmir at any cost for BJP-RSS combine on hold for the time being!