Whose roost will it be?

Vijay Hashia
Who will rule the roost; will emerge on 23 December when the counting begins?  For the present, the whole political gamut is against the BJP in the ongoing political battle. Allegations of polarising voters and staggering campaign of Art-370, ranging from open debate to its abrogation is threatening Muslim majority, the din that has refused to abate and is politically pitched high.  Now, in another political labyrinth attacks, Omar Abdullah charges trucks of supporters were outsourced from Jammu and Sajjad Lone’s bastion in PM’s rally. The reaction is obvious of Modi wave flummoxed of losing to political opponent.
There is no doubt, Mr Modi, the expansionist is trying to reach out every nook and corner and to J&K, he has had four trips including the one at the fortified Sher-i-Kashmir stadium which is aimed at woo the voters. While BJP has temporarily shelved abrogation of much touted Art-370 and left it to debate in the State Assembly and According to the wishes of people, the party’s strategist- in -chief Amit Shah is all out to strengthen the base in the state.  Muslim votes for NC and PDP have already split; independents and rebels have turned avowed admirers of Mr Modi.  The arithmetic of BJP will certainly go up in this election.  The party has taken NC and PDP head on building upon from eleven members in the current Assembly. The demographics might, however, pose a challenge as the political discourse has always been valley centric but presently, the centre piece of strategy has shifted focus from the Congress, the NC and the PDP hold over to BJP to achieve the target forty four plus. Historically, Muslim majority has neither liked to vote for Hindu party nor for a Hindu ruler. Since 1947, J&K has had only one and the first imposed controversial Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan of INC who ruled for 142 days. The Congress has ruled the state four times, National Conference six times, Awami National Conference and PDP one time each.
With  BJP’s venturing the Muslim majority bastions with agenda of ending dynasty rule, growth and governance reform, corruption free state, justice, protection, welfare and economic development, there  is no space for controversial issues such as Art-370 and AFSPA repealing, the trump card played during Lok Sabha elections. The party has fielded 25 out of 32 Muslim candidates from the Valley.
Boycott calls from the separatists have evoked partial response for two phases of election process.  Interestingly, separatist Sajjad Lone’s truck with BJP is seen a move for possible alliance.  The plus point for political parties is, this election has seen no rampaging mobs, no pelting of stones, no torching of police vans and private cars, no snatching of ballot boxes.  So far, the election process is peaceful, perhaps, people are sapped and their woes hemmed in a series of crises on all fronts.  The despicable and decadent migrant list, however, is misnomer as majority find their names excluded.  Manipulation is not ruled out as Kashmiri Pandits are scattered across the globe and have not voted for twenty five years.
Valley is seeing aggressive polemic exchanges of political parties.  Hard core elements harbouring extremist views have warned BJP candidates and people against casting votes in favour of BJP as Muslim majority would not like BJP to rule the state.  On the other hand, Pakistan is all out to disturb the democratic process of Kashmiris whose immediate issues are roads, electricity, drinking water and employment.  Four attacks at different places that claimed lives of eleven security forces and two civilians were intended to target voters and question narrative of normalcy in the Valley. There is no doubt; these attackers were Pak sponsored.
The present political rancour against BJP isn’t surprising. Just as many Hindu nationalists oppose Art 370 as a barrier to the full integration of J&K; many in the state see it as their only protection against existential threat.  Fears of being swamped by Hindu majority have always remained a powerful motif in Kashmir politics and present political rhetoric is the outcome of medley of actors of which communal card is expedient way of wooing the voters.  This perhaps, would create an advantageous situation for PDP to garner maximum number of Muslim votes for assembly seats and as it is predicted not the National Conference but the PDP is the biggest challenge to BJP this time.  On the other hand, if Muslim turnout in the next three phases is low, it would be advantageous to the BJP’s winning maximum number of assembly seats.  Nevertheless, short fall of forty four plus which is only a number game, could lead to tie up with PDP in the Government formation.  Seen will be who is going to rule the political roost – the ascendency or different cooks’ brothing the soup?  Let’s wait and watch December 23.


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