It is amply, however comically, obvious now that the ruling establishment does not want to make the mistake in Jammu and Kashmir that Donald Trump made in America’s 2020 presidential elections.
He doesn’t want to rush into an assembly election thinking there’s no way the BJP can’t win now and then lose the election and have to pretend they didn’t. .
What administrative and political contortions has the power in place gone through over the past three and a half years to ensure, before any election, that the party in power will win.
Of the removal of the “special status” granted to the former state by the Constituent Assembly of India after lengthy negotiations with the leaders of the democracy movement in former Jammu and Kashmir (negotiations led by Sardar Patel), to the permanent suspension of representative governance, to the infusion of a convenient central bureaucracy, to a tattered and patently illogical delineation exercise and gerrymander, to gerrymander the voter rolls by one subterfuge or another, culminating in the authority to the Pyrrhus given to Tehsildars to certify electors’ eligibility, for then an ignominious nullification of this hopelessly inept order, and much more to be listed here – but all the contortions are calculated to set the stage for a BJP triumph in any eventual assembly election – the Union government has left no stone unturned to get the result before exercise.
Indeed, some wisecracks commented that the best way might have been to take inspiration from a new TV channel called “Jammu/Kashmir/Ladakh/Himachal” and move fast and merge the territory of the Union with Himachal Pradesh. This would clearly solve any demographic difficulty!
Alas, the more such overly blatant machinations have been attempted, the further away the prospects of the desired outcome seem.
Even the battered and beleaguered pundits who had at one time put all their eggs in the right-wing basket are now ranting much more against the Modi/Shah regime than against traditional Kashmiri parties – a significant consequence of the bewildered embarrassment of the Hindutva camp.
The latest targeted killing of Puran Kishan Bhatt – a Pandit who only recently left the valley – was followed by unusually militant protests by Pandits in which the main slogan was “BJP hey hey.”
In the Hindu-dominated region of Jammu, even the Dogra Rajputs seem to have understood that the aim of the central regime is to suck them into the homogenization of Hindutva led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh rather than allow them to express the fullness of their ethnic and regional pride. identify.
Consider the significant fact that Hari Singh, Maharaja of the former princely state, had wanted to retain independent status from the two new dominions of India and Pakistan.
Indeed, it must remain a piquant speculation in our modern history whether he would have joined India if the new dominion of Pakistan had not foolishly launched a tribal-led military offensive in Jammu and Kashmir.
Another matter that his birth day has now been designated as a public holiday as that of Sheikh Abdullah who had firmly rejected the ‘two nations’ theory and rebuffed Jinnah from casting the fate of the state with an India which, ( as he said in his first speech to the J&K Constituent Assembly on November 4, 1951) had crafted a secular, democratic constitution that guaranteed all citizens, regardless of caste, creed, religion, sex, language, race, etc., equality before the law, was denoted as a public vacancy.
A sagacious measure which, to sort out the disaffections in the valley, wouldn’t you say?
The longer the undemocratic interregnum of the administrative regime choreographed from New Delhi continues, the more the patterns of contortions become apparent to all.
On the contrary, far from being weakened in their political influence, the major parties, having played their cards well, seem firmly anchored in the two regions of the Union Territory: even the Hindu Kashmiris struggle to understand why their specific cultures should be cavalierly solicited to be engulfed by the “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan” politics of “upper” caste ideologues in a distant cowbelt, when the Nagas, Mizos, Meities, Kukis, Tamils, Telugus, Malayalis, Odias, Bengalis and tribal peoples of all states have been so successful in securing self-contained political expression and space within the broad framework of Indian constitutional democracy.
And no one, but no one, is persuaded that there has been a great change of heart or mind in the state towards nationalist hegemony, (sporting events and movies notwithstanding), or that thriving tourism is an index of such a transformation.
Like any sensible population, Kashmiris know that tourism is an economic lifeline that they must nurture, so one rarely hears of any harm caused to a tourist.
A majority of Kashmiris in both regions know, although not all say so, that the repeal of the former “special status” has dealt a terrible blow to both their economic security (in terms of employment, land ownership, education) and to their worthy perception of themselves.
Many are willing to admit that this madness was best reversed and followed by a comprehensive dialogue, both internally and with external forces, however exhausted, to achieve a modus vivendi which has the potential to restore the democratic and administrative prerogatives of Kashmiris and make the politics of violence redundant.
Kashmiris are unable to understand why this cannot happen in Jammu and Kashmir when such protracted dialogue has taken place and continues to take place in Nagaland, for example.
All this must be rooted in the first return of a full state to the territory, followed by an electoral exercise that is considered free and fair, and an acceptance of all the results that such an exercise generates.
Kashmiris must not simply be proclaimed to the world as an integral part of India, but must be able to feel and want it by being granted the rights they had when they voluntarily joined the Union, rejecting the two main membership criteria resulting from the Sharing Law, namely contiguity and demography.
Believe it or not, many Kashmiris still believe that when the issue of Article 370 is raised in the highest court, justice will prevail.