In this era of internet, can the BJP handle Jammu and Kashmir crisis by repeating what Narasimha Rao did in Punjab?
The incompatible alliance of PDP & BJP ruling Jammu & Kashmir has reached its destined destination as BJP formally ended the alliance. Like all critical strategic decisions, this separation also has multi-dimensional effects on the situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, its state politics, and the national politics as well. The Governor’s rule has come into force, and Governor Narinder Nath Vohra has already started reviewing law and order situation.
On the positive side, this would present a golden chance for BJP to repeat what Narasimha Rao did in Punjab. But, PV did that in an age that was before not only the internet but even live TV News. Replicating the same in the current scenario is a formidable challenge. Given the fact that BJP lacks the intelligent manpower to execute plans devised by the leadership, implementation is a concern. As such, the constant flip-flops related to Pakistan have not gone down well as the net result remained zero. In fact, even the current decision of pulling out of the Jammu and Kashmir government is a somersault and exposes the lack of vision.
First, believing that a democratically elected Prime Minister can take decisions in Pakistan was a mistake. Despite many confidence-building measures, including inviting Nawaz Sharif to the swear-in ceremony of Modi to Prime Minister’s sudden visit to Pakistan for wishing Sharif on his birthday might have ignited confidence in Sharif. However, they were nipped in the bud by the ever powerful institution in Pakistan, i.e., the Pakistani Army.
Efforts in engaging Pakistan have culminated in Nawaz Sharif being banned from politics by the highest judicial authority of that country. And, relations with Pakistan have gone back to square ZERO.
True that Narendra Modi transformed into a statesman in trying to engage Pakistan, from being a chief minister who invoked ‘Mia Musharraf’ to win state elections. But, all his efforts have come to naught. Despite the uncharacteristic engagement with Pakistan, his efforts are seen by the commentators only as flip-flops because the ultimate result was merely nothing. It is another thing that even these very commentators could never specify precisely what Indian Government should do to have better relations with Pakistan and improve the situation in Kashmir.
Barkha Dutt, in her column after Shujat Bukhari’s assassination, called for a change in government’s way of handling Kashmir. But, she has failed to articulate what it is that the government should do.
Meanwhile, Pakistan on its part has legitimized the occupied Kashmir by declaring it one of its provinces. Alas, India could even not do this because of Article 370. Even after four years in government, the nationalist BJP government that has come to power with an absolute majority could do nothing due to various systemic limitations apart from situational ones.
However, one thing is common across all major political parties of the state. All parties, BJP, INC, NC, and PDP, adhere to the fact that Kashmir integration is not negotiable. India wants PoK and Pakistan wants Jammu and Kashmir. Some separatists want independent Kashmir including Jammu and Ladakh. Pakistan backed separatists wish to see the integration of J&K with Pakistan – at least the Islamic Kashmir valley. There is no room when it comes to negotiation on this issue. Perhaps realizing this, Vajpayee and Musharraf wanted to convert LoC into international border according to some rumors that prevailed during the failed Agra summit.
As such, Governor’s rule could be used to control the situation in Kashmir as current operations by both the Police and Army are not fully supported by the ruling establishment. If the government can find a suitable person to clean the state of terrorists, this is the best chance.
The other possible development is after two or three months of operations against terrorists, Pakistani Army may get directly involved in this escalating it into a way. This may happen in Sep/Oct, well before winter. Attacks may be possible across the international border too to prevent Indian Army from concentrating at LoC. Pakistan may even try to urge China to engage India on the North-East front, but whether China would heed to this demand is a big question mark. Given the way, the trade war taking place with Trumped America and its principal role in negotiating peace between Koreas may forbid China from engaging India hurting its business prospects that have to go a long way with India in the coming decade.
In case if India wins a decisive war against Pakistan and eliminates terrorists, the ordinary citizens of Kashmir would be able to lead normal lives. If this dream becomes a reality, it will prove to be the first decisive plus for Modi government in Kashmir.
Impact on 2019 General Elections:
If he could convey his efforts in engaging Pakistan and separatists for four years and going for physical containment only as a last resort, Modi can again touch the nerve of average Indian Voter. Of course, he is master in articulating this, and so it may help BJP well. In my view, BJP should at least rope-in 30 to 40 candidates from the Muslim community for next Lok Sabha elections, especially in Muslim majority areas. Whether they win or not is not the question, but the impact the decision may have on the community may help BJP elsewhere. This is based on and extrapolating the recent speech by Mohan Bhagwat in the presence of Pranab Mukherjee.
Can Modi government execute its plans and contain terrorism in Kashmir? Can India win a decisive war with Pakistan in few days? Answers to these two questions would define BJP’s fate largely in the next elections.
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