It will be a huge mistake for the Jammu BJP to bank upon credibility, acceptability and popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for all times to come. True, he created magic in Lok Sabha polls-2014 and 2019 besides the crucial elections to Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in 2014, witnessing near sweep for the party across the region but much water has flown down the Suryaputri Tawi since then and, therefore caution remains a watchword for the Jammu BJP.
India has religiously accepted Narendra Modi as leader for the entire nation but that doesn’t necessarily mean that his persona will remain superimposed on distinct regional urges and aspirations. In a federal setup, diversity is not the core of cultural milieu only but remains deeply ingrained in politics as well. This has unfolded itself in different manifestations in states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and so on. Maharashtra is the latest example of the BJP losing its foothold despite Modi commandeering the Centre. Therefore, the Jammu BJP has all the more reasons to be worried, especially in the backdrop of its dismal and very poor performance in coalition with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP and the events unfolding post August 5 this year.
Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status has taken toll of traditional politics of the erstwhile State. The political landscape has totally changed. Many bigwigs in the politics are yet to comprehend and overcome the trauma inflicted by the constitutional measures taken by the mighty Centre. Once coming out of the shock, many will find themselves redundant and irrelevant in the politics of new Union Territory. Whether they like it or not, August 5 has sealed the career of political dynasts in the PDP and the National Conference. Circumstances have altered the situation, landing Muftis and Abdullahs in the political whirlpool. The Jammu based second fiddlers of the Kashmir centric PDP have already gone in the hibernation while their counterparts in the National Conference are struggling to assert their lost stature. But how long? Can Farooq Abdullah or Omar Abdullah take the plunge and fit into the shoes of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed in the marginalized Union Territory that once upon a time formed major chunk of Maharaja Gulab Singh’s largest State? Article 370 has been the identity and political edifice of National Conference, which is now a reality of the past. With this proviso gone, National Conference too has submerged in the political history of Jammu and Kashmir because Abdullahs will feel constrained not to hold the fort anymore. Without father-son duo the National Conference is like a dead political entity. They stand pushed to the plebiscite front era with no saving grace as was enjoyed by Sheikh Abdullah when dethroned and arrested in 1953. Entire Kashmir had stood behind him like a rock. On the contrary, no tears are rolling on any cheek for Abdullahs under detention now.
The fate of ‘accidental (politically)’ PDP is no different. Mehbooba Mufti will have to struggle for rest of her political career to establish that there is none to hold Tricolour in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370. Three stalwarts of her party, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Altaf Bukhari and MP Nazir Ahmed Laway have already shown signs of cracks.
The Congress in Jammu and Kashmir is breathing on 24×7 continued supply of oxygen like it does elsewhere across the country. Its political efficacy in the Union Territory is as good as worst its performance has been thus far.
Now remain the regional parties and the Jammu based BJP, which may have seemingly free run in the region. But the scenario is going to be quite different. The latter is poised for an uphill task given its very poor and dismal performance in the coalition ministry with the PDP for nearly three years. The abuse and misuse of official position and charges of corruption against most of the ministers still haunts the BJP’s core constituency in Jammu, which remembers its three-year stint in the government as a nightmare. Jammu may, in all probability, inflict severe punishment to its BJP leaders at the time of reckoning despite standing like a rock behind Narendra Modi. The sagacious Jammu electors know to differentiate between good and the evil. This leaves the political canvas of Jammu colourless. The signs of leadership vacuum are discernible even before the electoral politics takes off formally in this part of the Union Territory. The Jammu chapters of the NC and PDP are in dilemma with the cadre clueless where to go. They may have to rise from the political debris left by their discredited Kashmiri handlers.
The crisis in Jammu politics is visible as the credibility of its political class continues to remain under shadow. It will be the individual performance of those elected in the Jammu region, from time to time, which will define where they stand and which course the politics takes.