A Sense Of Victory In Jammu, Betrayal In Kashmir

25 February 2015
The Hindu
Zahid Rafiq

Srinagar: A day after the BJP and the PDP announced that they would form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, a sense of coming to power prevails in the Hindu-majority Jammu where the BJP won all its seats. 'Today, I personally feel a sense of victory, and this is because of the coming to power of the BJP,' says Rajneesh Khullar, a businessman in Jammu. Though Jammu and Kashmir was always part of India like any other State, Mr. Khullar says he always felt that it was somehow more distant and removed. 'Politics in J&K, the only Muslim-majority State in India, was done on different terms.' 'Now with the BJP in power in such a strong way, I feel a sense of power for the first time. I believe we will no more hear about Kashmir wanting azadi and the governments pandering to them,' Mr. Khullar told The Hindu. The BJP, which won a single seat in the 2002 Assembly elections in the State, increased its tally to 11 in the 2008 elections, which were conducted immediately after the land row agitation during which several small Hindu organisations, along with the BJP, consolidated the region's Hindu votebank. This election, the BJP stood second, after the PDP, with 25 seats, all from the Jammu region. While both the PDP and the BJP have climbed down from their stated positions for forming the government this time, people in Jammu see this as a victory, unlike in Kashmir, where the majority feels betrayed by the PDP. 'Despite the negative responses that have come from Kashmir to the formation of the alliance, I think it is much better for both parties to come to power than to be out of it. People of Jammu are happy that they voted for the BJP, and the party has come to power,' Rekha Choudhary, senior political analyst from Jammu, told The Hindu. Ms. Choudhary said it is for the first time in the history of Kashmir that such parties with diametrically opposite ideologies have come together because of compulsions of power. 'There have only been positions, but no dialogue between those positions, but hopefully this alliance has opened the possibility of dialogue. While the BJP has chosen silence on Article 370, the PDP has called the West Pakistan refugee issue a humanitarian one, and the two parties have already committed to each other's perspectives,' she said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are excepted to meet in New Delhi before the swearing-in ceremony in Jammu on March 1.