The Biggest Domestic Challenge

BY SUNIL DANG

The more we talk about the stupendous victory of BJP & its irrepressible architect Duo of Modi & Shah, the more it brings open the enormity of challenges that lie ahead of them. To my mind the single biggest challenge would be the Kashmir issue & the labyrinth of intricacies associated with it. Not that abrogation of article 370 & repealing of section 35 A have sprung up now in BJP’s manifesto, but the prying lens of the nation & the aura of expectations on both sides of Pir Panjal have firmly put the spotlight on Modi government on this controversial subject. Can Modi pull off the unthinkable without widening the gulf between the valley & rest of India at a time when the atmosphere is abuzz with expectation & conciliation? Going by how the PM has struck concordant notes in his appearances post the election results & that the state is supposed to go to polls any time after the Amarnath Yatra is over, my guess is that BJP will not rush with these overtures?

It is a settled position that Kashmir enjoys special powers under article 370 & that no government at center has shown either the resolve or the need to tinker with it, keeping the larger strategic interest in mind. Can the Modi dispensation afford to stir a hornet’s nest that has the potential to unsettle the entire valley & ignite flames of passion & discontent in the already inflamed paradise?

Or would there be something like trifurcating the state into three different zones / regions. Ladakh & Kargil to the East, Jammu with Bhaderwah & Kishtwar on the West &Kashmir Valley on the Northern most end of the divide;while many may wish to see such a move fructifying that enables the three geographically distinct territories getting the desired attention for the good of their people. It may also delink the vexed Kashmir issue from the other two regions that in the current scheme of things feel shortchanged by the continuous focus on the valley alone. That they think is grossly unfair. But can the government risk further alienating the Muslim majority of the valley by creating such administrative &economically independent of each other zones for the equitabledistribution of the copious amount of central assistance to the state. Is that good enough a reason to balance out things or would it lead to something more fraught?

Coming back to the impending elections in J & K state, the people there want the process to happen sooner than later. It would be interesting to know how the recent victory of BJP is handled by its local unit who I must confess have done an extraordinary job in the Lok Sabha elections. Going by the number of votes cast in its favour, BJP can draw enormous cheer & satisfaction from the same that also resulted in them winning three of the six seats to Parliament. Will BJP leverage its standing & reputation for larger purposes of having the state assembly on board to do away with article 370 with the support of its alliance partner? Can it look forward to the likes of Sajjad Lone to ally with them for the local polls & try & cobble up a majority for meeting with the deemed end? Interesting times, I must say.

Overall, I get the sense that in the aftermath of what BJP has achieved electorally, it is more of a Survival game of most of the opposition parties as well as regional outfits than of their revival. Under these circumstances, it may well be prudent for most of the Also -Rans to shed their old inhibitions & join hands with the party in power & try & build its own support base whilst singing along with the Big brother.