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Is Article 370 becoming a DICHOTOMY for BJP?

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on June 13, 2024 with No Comments

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi takes  pride in abrogation of Article 370- a part of the Indian constitution which had given significant autonomy to the region – and divided it into two federally-administered territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.  At various rallies he has been claiming, “The abrogation of Article 370 has enabled the potential and aspirations of the people to find full expression. Happening at the grassroots level, it is great for the people of J&K, in particular the you.”  While the various leaders of the ruling BJP who are deeply engrossed in the campaign, do echo similar sentiments to impress the voters; however,  more than four years after the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir, the party has decided not to contest this year’s general election there. What a dichotomy!

Voting in Jammu and Kashmir is being held in five phases. Apart from Mr Abdullah’s NC, those in the fray include the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Peoples Conference (PC) and Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party. India’s main opposition party Congress is also contesting. Leaders from the NC and PDP have repeatedly claimed that the BJP is supporting the PC and Apni Party in the elections and have called them their “proxies”. The BJP hasn’t made any formal announcements about an alliance. Party’s decision to only field candidates in two seats in Hindu-majority in the region of Jammu and none in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley has come as surprise to many.  BJP traditionally does not enjoy much support in the valley, but experts say its cadre base has increased in recent years. Its best performance was in the state elections of 2014, when it emerged as the second-largest party and formed the government with the PDP. The party won 25 of the total 87 seats – all in Jammu.

Why would not a party that claims it brought peace and sense of equality in the region would not contest in that reason?

Relations between the central government and government in Jammu & Kashmir have been jittery.  Insurgency against Indian rule and military action against it have claimed thousands of lives in the region over the past three decades. The situation worsened in 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked Article 370. The decision didn’t come easy for many. The central government jailed many political leaders including three former chief ministers; also, internet services were blocked for months.  These actions were not taken after any kind of protests, but well before the abrogation.  Since then, Prime Minister Modi  his ministers, members of his party have repeatedly promoted the 2019 decision, claiming that it has brought peace to the region.In the last few years, local BJP leaders have also worked extensively to expand its support base in Kashmir by launching door-to-door campaigns.

The BJP’s chief spokesperson in Jammu and Kashmir claims that elections are not a priority and their main objective is to win the “hearts of the people”; no wonder his approach has no logical backing.

Apparently, the decision to not contest elections in valley hints at anger in the region over the move and BJP has very well understood the same.  The party leadership has also realised that securing victory in the region would not have been easy. While the achievement may sell in other states, removing the special status in the valley hasn’t gone down well with the people in the region. If people were happy with the abrogation of Article 370, the BJP wouldn’t have hesitated to fight. However, the party doesn’t want to expose itself; as the locals would have treated these elections as a referendum for and against the article 370.

Since the abrogation of the Article 370, the region has been under President’s rule. Virtually under the control of the ruling BJP in the centre. However, the BJP has failed to hold the assembly elections thus denting the aspirations of the locals to have a democratically-elected government where they are connected with the leadership. In addition, high unemployment rates, the absence of local representation in politics are some of the other reasons where the BJP found itself alienated from the masses in the valley.

Even if BJP does well in rest of India, losing from Kashmir would have been a major defeat. To avoid that they opted not to field any candidate.





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