Cameraperson: Abhay Sharma
The BJP has ended its alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. What does this mean and how did we get here?
In 2014, the verdict in Jammu and Kashmir was a split one. Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP emerged as the largest party (with 28 seats). Their traditional rivals, the National Conference, had mustered only 15 seats. On the other hand, the BJP had won big, getting 25 seats as opposed to the Congress’ 12.
This presented quite a situation. The PDP and BJP were ideologically opposed, but together, they had the strongest shot at forming a government, with as many as 53 seats between them.
The PDP and the BJP disagreed on most things in Kashmir. Or on many, at the very least.
- The BJP wants Article 370 of the Indian Constitution done away with. The PDP does not.
- The PDP demands the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Kashmir. The BJP would have none of it.
- The BJP aggressively pushes for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley. The PDP isn’t as enthused.
We could go on and on. But you get the drift.
They weren’t the likeliest best friends but you do make strange bedfellows in politics. And for the sake of government formation, kaafi kuch chalta hai, boss.
Even Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh admitted to the “ideological differences” between the BJP and the PDP. And how could he not?
So, if polar opposite ideologies weren’t a problem so far, why now?
For starters, the proximity to 2019.
- Letting go of its links with the PDP will help the BJP establish an ideologically more hardline stance in the run-up to next year’s general elections. It will no longer have to carry the embarrassment of an unnatural alliance.
- The BJP may stand to reap the benefits of this move in a future election – and especially so in the Jammu region.
- If politics is mostly perception, then the optics of delinking itself from the PDP will aid the BJP’s narrative of polarisation.
- The BJP will hope that the benefits accrued from this move do not stay limited to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Modi and Shah will hope that the BJP’s newfound hardline stand against PDP will help it score brownie points across the country, aligning with its agenda of aggressive “nationalism”.
Can Governor’s rule prove to be beneficial for the BJP?
Theoretically, a tighter administration could help rein in militants and the Centre would hope that by election time in 2019, it has the numbers to show that militancy has been controlled in the Valley. This, of course, may not work to plan, for any of the many vagaries of Kashmir.
So what next, Jammu and Kashmir? The BJP has made its move. The ball is in everyone else’s court now.
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