BJP partnering PDP in JK ruling alliance is devising ways and means for setting up a new normal in JK State. And, keeping up with the process, the political outfit of RSS is designing spaces for downloading Sangh Parivar agenda.
It ranges from attempted enlivening of autocratic memorabilia to impearl constitutional safeguards of JK State, thus frame a new normal. BJP is hedging its bets on a parallel narrative prevalent in a few plain districts of predominantly hilly state across Himalayan ranges. State backed parallel narrative is framed to overshadow overwhelming majority sentiment prevailing in wide range of districts across Pir Panchal and Zojila. The parallel narrative is being hyped-up to loop in forces across the political spectrum located in plain districts. These forces from other parties are too scared to go against the narrative, lest they lose space, though they may not be ideologically in sync with Sangh Parivar ideology. The parallel narrative wants to squeeze the space of overwhelming majority sentiment by creating avenues for their brand of cultural nationalism totally out of tune with the socio-cultural ethos of overwhelming majority of JK populace.
Much more that lauding autocracy in sync with ethnicity, an inner urge is at works, which in political language translates to inflicting a sense of defeat on the majority and make it cringe. The majority however lives with its dominant sentiment. The sentiment seeks conflict resolution and resists status quo. It is precisely the status quo that the parallel narrative seeks to protect. Making space for outdated autocracy by celebrating birthday of last autocratic ruler—Hari Singh is merely incidental in a larger design. The larger design comprises of attempts to demolish the safeguards JK State in endowed with in its relationship with India, based on accession short of merger. Lest it is taken as a leaf from agenda of resistance forces, mainstreamer Omar Abdullah as CM stated accession being short of merger on floor of legislative assembly in 2010. Lately Omar as leader of opposition has turned another leaf, which in fact has ruffled a few feathers. Omar’s view in sync with what civil society has held for long points to a judicial route being adopted to imperil constitutional safeguards. The implication is obvious, legislative route may not dent the safeguards provided. Hence, in Parivar calculation it might be prudent to challenge their very basis. This might be no more hypothetical, given the spate of judicial pleas by Sangh Parivar affaliates. And, PDP constrained by coalition dharma does not seem to be up to meeting the challenge. A state of paresis touching almost total paralysis has overtaken it.
The recent judicial verdict on SARFAESI Act points to the utter apathy of PDP to meet the judicial challenge. The state failed to line-up a sizable defence in the court, hence it could not be defended the way, it should have been. To patch-up the loose ends, a sizable legislation is needed to provide legal provisions for banks to make recoveries from defaulters, yet disallow transfer of property rights to non state subjects. Article 35 A has also been challenged in the Apex Court, and since it protects the rights of state subjects vis-a-vis immovable properties, employment and scholarships, the state stands obliged to arrange the best legal defence possible to muster. There is absolutely no room for coalition dharma plea and accommodating BJP viewpoint on as important a challenge, as has come-up vis-a-vis Article 35 A. Given a space to manoeuvre, BJP would not hesitate to leave it unchallenged, and make way for a judicial verdict that suits the Parivar agenda. Article 35 A has been a sore for BJP much before the party assumed power in Delhi. Arun Jaitley called it an infringement of rights of Indian citizens.
Vis-a-vis Article 370 BJP has not changed its stand on its abrogation, as was evident in concluding days of recent budget session. BJP nominated speaker—Kavinder Gupta hardly holds back his commitment to RSS, in spite of his constitutional status being above party politics. The Sangh Sevak seemed bent upon expunging Mahbooba Mufti’s remark outlining that challenging Article 370 could be anti national. His decision was contested by the opposition. PDP stayed mute, as mute as the party stayed when Hari Singh was lauded in the house, and the demand made to accord the autocrat honours by marking his birthday as a state holiday. PDP’s failure to react, even in defence of leader of the house is ominous. It is inexplicable unless a note is taken of a feeble surrender to BJP on all counts. PDP seems overawed by BJP’s stretch from Delhi to Jammu.
The speaker revised his decision with the opposition raising hue and cry over it. It was left to CM to come clear on her statement. She didn’t deem it feasible to attend the house, leading to bedlam. The house was adjourned sine die days before the scheduled closure of budget session. It was obviously done to save the coalition the blushes on Article 370, given BJP’s belligerent stand and PDP’s capitulation. The speaker’s stance shows the extent BJP is ready to go to protect its ideological turf. In the process if democratic norms are trampled upon to devise a new normal, the attitude seems to be—so be it!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(The author is doctor in medicine, a social activist, and a senior columnist)