The recent news about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) plan
to hold rally at Kashmir in May 2016 should be an eye-opener for the Kashmir
leadership. At the time when the RSS is spreading its tentacles in Kashmir the political
parties in Jammu Kashmir are still on stalemate in forming the new government.
It is high time for the regional parties like Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC) to tackle Kashmir through the prism of Kashmiriyat, the term often used as a poll plank during political speeches and debates by all political parties, including separatists.
The advent of PDP government in alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was already cold-shouldered by the people in Kashmir. The Muslim majority region of Kashmir had voted in favour of PDP and NC to keep the BJP at bay, but PDP’s alliance between Hindutva party evoked sharp criticism in entire Kashmir.
Kashmiris expressed deep anguish in various forums including social media calling the alliance as “Sell-out, opportunism, back-stabbing”. Since the PDP-BJP government formation in 2014, various speculations about the BJP’s intentions were making rounds, and these speculations have turned into reality. The so called “Agenda of Alliance” has already only served in the best interests of RSS agenda through demographic, power and economic perspective. Series of pro-RSS issues which were raised in the one year of the coalition, it has shaped an anti-Kashmiri dogma negating the notion of pro-people stand of PDP.
One of the main controversies which took stoked during the coalition was the issuance of PRCs in Jammu that still goes unabated and unchecked and is used as a ploy by the RSS backed BJP to change the demography of Jammu Kashmir. Gujjar activist and community leaders have been claiming that BJP in Jammu is working quietly to issue PRCs to West Pakistan Refugees and other non-state subjects.
To saffronise the administration in order to do this work without any hindrance, the state government under the influence of BJP ordered transfers of Muslim bureaucrats and other government officials in the state along “communal lines”. The transfers were taking place from the secretariat to district and Tehsil levels. This was being done to facilitate the issuance of the PRC’s to the non-state residents in Jammu. PDP even failed to secure IIT and IIM for Kashmir after BJP won AIIMS following a powerful stir that took place in Jammu demanding AIIMS for Jammu.
The political tussle between the two parties didn’t stop here, the debate on article 35 A and Article 370 stir up more controversy. RSS through BJP also came up with its agenda of dividing the state. In the light of June 29, 2002, the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (all-India leaders’ committee) of the RSS resolution demanding that the region of Jammu be made a separate state, and Ladakh turned into a Union territory, the one year PDP-BJP coalition saw the demands inching closer. BJP created history by stunning victory in the Ladakh, Leh elections on October 17, 2015 after winning 18 out of 26 by using main poll promise of union territory status for Ladakh.
It is clear now by making an issue of union territory status for Ladakh, PRCs and the demand to repeal Article 370, BJP is preparing ground for its abrogation to bring Jammu Kashmir at par with other sates of the India.
Besides this, the issue of beef ban and murderous assaults on Kashmiris is also now grappling with deadly upheavals of ethno-religious strife which resulted in the death of a Kashmir trucker last year. Keeping in view the deadly communal attacks on Muslims in in Dadri and Atali, the new government formation will be a litmus test for mainstream parties, PDP in particular who often brag and boost about Kashmir sovereignty and Kashmiriyat. To fulfill the promise of people, PDP being the majority party in the state needs to rethink about the coalition partners to form the new government. The past coalition has proved like a blot for PDP who often claim to be people centric.
While discussing the various permutations and combinations of political parties with each other, regional parties should iron out differences to strengthen Kashmir constitution, Article 35 A, 370 and State flag to protect the integrity of Jammu Kashmir. It’s time for the political parties to secure the recent judgement over the State flag and its constitution.
Reaching consensus over contentious issues seems difficult at the moment but not impossible with the fact that recently if these regional parties can gather at one platform and share dais with each other during the republic day celebration why is it harder for our regional parties to unite under State Flag.
The author is Delhi based journalist and can be mailed at email@example.com