BJP’s Kashmir policy: a failure

By Zaboor Ahmad

The BJP, for all practical purposes believes that it has a consistent and coherent policy towards Jammu and Kashmir. The genesis of the trouble in Jammu and Kashmir lies in the himalayan blunder committed by Pandit Nehru and Lord Mountbatten when the duo decided to land the Kashmir issue at the doors of a polarized international, the United Nations.
This action had terrible fallout for India. The ulterior motive was to create a pressure cooker situation for Pakistan to end its ‘aggression’ and get it vacated from the territory, but the plan backfired and the duo got a sound drubbing when the UN prescribed to hold a plebiscite. It resulted in the internationalization of the dispute as the UN was a fractured body and the issue got embroiled in the quagmire of cold war politics.
The BJP has squarely put the blame on Congress party for losing territorial claim on 37 percent of Kashmir’s land to Pakistan and 17 to china. A question can be asked as to why S.P Mukherjee did not resign from the cabinet over the issue? The BJP still cherishes the pipe dream of taking back all the territories lost, but history teaches a baneful lesson that BJP has remained a paper tiger.
The NDA basks in the shadow of hypocrisy for relegating and making the Kashmir issue a bilateral one which is a historical myth as it was the Shimla Agreement which made Jammu and Kashmir issue a bilateral dispute, and ceasefire line was changed into line of control. Conversely, it has claimed that it has succeeded in internationalization of ‘cross-border terrorism’ which again is false as it was only the tragic 9/11 attack that it became a global issue. If Khurshid Muhammad Kasuri is to be believed, the motive behind troop mobilization along the India-Pakistan border after the Parliament attack was to get Pakistan declared as a ‘terrorist state’. It backfired as the USA, in the wake of ‘war on terror’, forthwith befriended Pakistan much to the consternation of world.
The BJP considers Jammu and Kashmir an ‘integral part of India’, hence wants it to be treated like the other states bereft of any special status. On the one side the National Conference passed its autonomy resolution in the legislative assembly demanding the pre-1953 status. The NC joined the NDA, led by BJP, an amalgam of twenty-four coalition partners, probably with the expectation that it will help it to score brownie points. But its autonomy resolution was put in cold storage! For the BJP, it meant undermining the already achieved progress in the erosion of Article 370. In its calculations, restoration of autonomy would bolster centrifugal forces and enfeeble the Centre-state relationship.
Since the BJP is ideologically outright against it, the NC had to give up its ideological baggage for which it had stood. The rejection of autonomy of NC, or later the ‘self-rule’ manifesto of PDP, by BJP will cost dare to all the parties. The BJP would have to join the election bandwagon harping on the issue of abrogation of article 370. Otherwise, both BJP and the Congress party are on same ideological wavelength on the issue of article 370.
As the Congress party helped in the erosion of Article 370, now the ball is in the court of BJP to play the final stroke to abolish it. For BJP, Pakistan-backed ‘cross-border terrorism’ it characterizes as genocide of Hindus in Kashmir, facts prove the theory otherwise. For BJP, the alliance between Pakistan and the separatist forces is an attempt to force a second partition on India.
According to BJP rhetoric, Kashmir problem can be resolved amicably on the basis of three parameters; Insaniyat (Humanism), Jamhuriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Hindu-Muslim amity/unity in Kashmir)). By any criterion, Kashmiryat signifies return of Hindus to Kashmir and putting them in vantage positions so that their historical dominance continues. The BJP is also opposed to Pakistan’s demand for holding a plebiscite. Some constituencies within the BJP believe that Ladakh and Jammu have received step-motherly treatment hence a separate Jammu regional development council should be formed. It has insisted any talk with Kashmir dissidents could be held within the constitutional framework of India. The BJP stance towards separatists is understandable, as it has lost its vitals in both Ladakh and Jammu. The BJP has in fact nothing for any stakeholder within Jammu and Kashmir, if the past is any guide, then it is likely that BJP will find it very hard to reconcile its ideological predilections and pragmatism. The only thing the BJP, like the Congress before it, would find easy is to relegate the seperatists to the background as they are a divided lot.

—The writer is lecturer of Political Science. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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