Jammu Kashmir poll 2014: The fate of Hurriyat freedom groups!
Jammu Kashmir poll 2014: The fate of Hurriyat freedom groups!
-DR. ABDUL RUFF COLACHAL
(A Free Kashmir: Random Thoughts-205)
Jammu Kashmir in India is going to polls to elect a new assembly. As usual, Hurriyat parties may not contest the poll.
These Hurriyat parties that struggle for freedom to join a destabilized Pakistan find some lame excuses to boycott polls in Jammu Kashmir and hide their weaknesses. Their policies have caused genocides of Kashmiri Muslims through continuous attacks on them by the powerful Indian military. Fake encounters, like fake sport fixings, are the favorite agenda of Indian military.
Participation in democratic processes by contesting the polls provides the freedom parties the right to live with dignity as humans and the right to fight for their rights in a more democratic manner. By winning seats or a fair amount of votes gives them the authority to talk to the government of India and JK. If they win a majority in the assembly, which may not be possible right now since they are new to poll politics, they can decide the fate and destiny of Kashmiris as the legitimate authority in the state.
Since the freedom groups, known as Hurriyat have maintained a total since on the issue of their possible participation in the forthcoming poll, it looks they may not be, as before, contesting the polls in JK for obvious reasons. First, Pakistan would like the freedom groups or separatist factions as they are known in India to continue their pro-Pakistan stand to fight for freedom and, therefore, would not endorse if they decide to contest the elections to send MLAs to the state assembly. Second, they fear they would not win many, if not any seats in JK thereby exposing their weak status in the region, denying them the right to represent the Kashmiris. Third, they have no real political experience in active campaigns for democratic polls. Fourth, they are used to getting money from both JK government and Pakistan and they fear this flow of funds would stop if they enter the poll fray which requires huge money. Fifth, they think, obviously wrongly, if they contest the poll that would amount to accepting the Indian military occupation of JK as reality and they have to forget about freedom movement.
This is not correct. As elected representatives the freedom groups attain a special status, hitherto unknown, of being legitimate representatives to decide the destiny of Kashmirs.
Hurriyat leaders need understand that world has no knowledge about any freedom and independence movement of Kashmiris, all that the world leaders are aware of is that India and Pakistan are fighting for the Kashmir valley which is now under Indian occupation and Pakistan is deliberately misguiding and misusing Kashmiri Muslims to wage the struggle against for nothing, except that Kashmiri Muslims are being killed by Indian military forces for operating on behalf of Pakistan. In fact, it is Pakistanis and Muslims belonging to Azad Kashmir under Pakistani control who live abroad and protest outside, further strengthening the role of Pakistan in demonstrations.
That no Hurriyat leader has said they don’t want to join Pakistan or India but want to be independent nation only shows their vague and childish approach to the problem, only helping India to kill Muslims.
In fact, there is not a newspaper or online portal to be dedicated exclusively to freedom movements in general and Kashmir issue in particular. Since they all want money, they support either India or Pakistan, leaving freedom movement to its own fate. .
Indian PM Narendra Modi, the man with hardcore Hindutva ideology and who surprised Indian politicians including of his own BJP party by delivering a clear stunning majority to the BJP for the first time in India in the Lok Sabha polls is going to stay in power for too long, unless another unpredictable happens. After a series of electoral victories from Gujarat, Indian Parliament, Maharashtra and Haryana, now Modi is targeting the troubled Jammu Kashmir.
The Congress party has failed to achieve this feat of majority in the parliament on its won for years of its coalition politics even with an innocent looking and pro-corporatist premier Manmohan Singh at the helm of affairs.
However, Modi obviously has a challenge in Jammu Kashmir and he knows that the poll in Jammu Kashmir is one major test he needs to pass as Indian PM, RSS ideologue and BJP's supreme leader in order to be accepted as an undisputed, all-inclusive and perhaps even an unparalleled national leader, more than any other Indian leader in history.
Modi feels with his impressive performance in polls for parliamentary, Haryana and Maharashtra assemblies, he can impress the Kashmiri Muslim votes and win a clear majority for the first time for the BJP in JK assembly with Hindu vote banks that support the Hindutva forces in India. He expects if not being able to win majority the BJP can easily create a situation where no government can be formed without it.
This is among the toughest challenges he is setting for himself since in Jammu Kashmir it may be possible. Indeed, getting a majority for the BJP in Lok Sabha or winning Maharashtra and Haryana and having its own chief ministers for the first time is historic but that may not repeat in JK.
The outgoing government in Srinagar is run by joint Congress-National Conference which does not hope to return to power. There is a huge anti-incumbency factor working against the ruling National Conference and the Congress who have, however, decided to contest the assembly polls separately. The BJP hopes to exploit this while building on its strength and grabbing the Congress’s space.
But the BJP is nowhere near the wining position in the state for various reasons. The BJP’s influence is confined to the Hindu majority Jammu and in Buddhist Ladakh which have 37 and 4 seats respectively and the party of Modi has practically no presence or organisational base in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley which has 46 of the 87 seats in the assembly and where Modi faces his stiffest ideological opposition. Devastating floods in JK do not make JK Muslims of New Delhi Hindus.
The BJP’s best performance in JK so far has been to win 11 seats in the state in 2008 and they have no influence in Kashmir valley.
Modi looks unfazed by this apparent handicap. Much like in the previous elections in the country, Modi wants to turn the J&K polls into a vote on his image, charisma and promise of governance and development and hope that it will work for him and his party here just as it has done in the general and state elections so far.
The BJP seeks to sweep the 37 seats in Jammu, the four seats in Ladakh and see to it that the PDP, the main opposition, does not sweep the 46 seats in the Valley. And to ensure that it does not, it would have to play the game of divide and rule in this particular region.
The BJP may, like it did in Maharashtra and Haryana, go it alone in the state.
By its secret national policy, shared by core Hindu members, the Congress party wants the BJP to come to power in a Muslim majority state JK to make a Hindu as its chief minister. That would a historic victory for both India and Hindus.
BJP is eager to kick Congress party out JK. The BJP calculation looks simple: if the Hindus vote for BJP while the Hurriyat freedom groups refuse to contest, it can easily win and if they support the BJP on some secret understating, it can easily achieve the target. It would force the regional forces to temper their stridency if they are forced to join hands with it in forming a government in case of a hung.
If BJP wins, it would have a completely different connotation, both nationally and internationally, and more specially vis-a-vis Pakistan. if the BJP emerges as a force in the state at the expense of the Congress, Modi would progressively move towards his target of a Congress-Mukt Bharat in which the saffron party becomes the dominant pole of Indian politics much like Congress has been in different avatars over 129 years now.
An increase in the BJP’s footprints in the state would by implication reduce the influence of the Congress; if the BJP upsets all calculations by getting a majority of its own it would dilute the influence of the separatist groups by acting as a counter-balancing force.
A BJP- led or a government with the BJP in it in JK would send out at least six major signals. If voted to power, the core principles of BJP like uniform civil code, Ram temple and scrapping article 370 of the Constitution guaranteeing special status to the JK state that have been anathema to the Muslim community would be quickly applied in JK. The 2002 Gujarat type riots to make every Hindu in JK a Hindutvawadi.
Congress party thinks BJP in government in JK can settle the burning issue with Pakistan fairly easier. The cumulative impact of all these factors would deliver a befitting response to Pakistan and its attempts to foment trouble, encourage militancy and export terrorism to the state, all in the name of religion.
A Muslim majority state ruled by a rightist anti-Muslim force is something the neigbour Pakistan would find hard to swallow, especially after the BJP government has been acting tough with Islamabad by calling off the Foreign Secretary level talks when its High Commissioner persisted in meeting separatist leaders.
There is also the possibility that JK would halt Modi’s onward journey. When votes for the five phased elections are counted on 23 December Modi seems ready to put his winning streak at stake with his Mission 44+ for a clear majority in the state.
Many Hindus believe there is no doubt that the atmosphere is conducive for the BJP to make an impact if not a splash in JK. They also claim, psychologically and perceptionally, the goodwill that gave Modi a majority of his own at the Centre and helped the BJP form its first governments in Haryana and Maharashtra could have a ripple effect in JK as well.
The PDP and the BJP had split the six seats equally between them in JK.
The PDP is taking no chances. It has kept chief minister Omar Abdullah in its line of fire both to emerge as an alternative and to try and prevent any post-poll deal between the erstwhile allies.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said the upcoming assembly elections offered a historic opportunity to the people to assert their identity, political rights and constitutional distinction. Upcoming elections are crucial in many senses and the people could utilize this opportunity to assert their democratic rights to give a positive turn to the situation which has witnessed deterioration during last six years. The PDP, he claimed, provided a platform for reconciliation, resolution and reconstruction and if voted to power it would carry forward the mission for peace and dignity that it had undertaken in 2002. A clear majority can help the government to address the challenges facing the state.
Mufti said the implications of the upcoming elections are beyond government formation and the results would be crucial to safeguarding interests of the state, resolution of Kashmir problem and securing the rights of J&K within the Union. Mufti said it is important to convey a message of unity and political maturity in order to grapple with the challenges and problems facing the state. He said the fragmentation of votes had in the last elections resulted in the formation of a government which neither had any political agenda nor a commitment towards the people of the state.
Mufti said if at the national level and in major states like UP, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu people can give a decisive mandate to a single party for effective governance there is no reason why Jammu and Kashmir can’t do similarly as we have a history of giving massive mandates in the past to one single party.
The Mission 44+ is pegged to an overarching strategy built around Modi, development and good governance and three different sub-strategies for the Jammu, Ladakh and Valley. The aim is to consolidate and maximize its gains among the Hindus in its strongholds in the Jammu region, reach out to Buddhists in Ladakh and exploit the differences between the three dominant forces in the Valley (the ruling NC, the opposition PDP and the Hurriyat leadership) while at the same time sharpening its targeted approach towards the different but small communities that lie scattered over the 10 districts and a 97 percent Muslim population of this region. These sections include the Kashmiri Pundits, Sikhs, Gujjars and Bakerwals who are to be found along the LoC.
The JK state was ready for a change but the disastrous performance of the state govt in managing the September floods and its aftermath has added urgency to the need for such change. Mufti said contrary to the impression created by the NC the voter turnout this time would be much higher as the people would come out in larger numbers to vote this government out and punish it for its six year long misdeeds.
It is not surprising that Modi, with the intent of increasing and enlarging the BJP’s footprints, has made as many as four visits to the state since he became prime minister in May. Two of these were in the aftermath of the floods that ravaged Srinagar, including the one in which, in a heartwarming gesture, he decided to spend diwali with the flood affected victims there.
As part of his outreach programme in the state, he has addressed a rally in Kargil, where India fought a brief with Pakistan, inaugurated an infrastructure project in the Valley, visited the troops in Siachen, met the flood victims and is monitoring through a team the relief and rehabilitation measures of the flood affected areas.
The fact that less than Rs 2000 crore have so far been announced by him as against the state’s demand of Rs 44000 crore would become an issue in the elections that could cast a shadow on his efforts.
As for the BJP, its best hope in the Valley lies among the small communities it intends to target and to try and work on the more moderate sections in the Hurriyat leadership like Sajjad Lone. The hardline Hurriyat leadership fighting to retain its relevance against any kind of poaching has called for a boycott of the polls that would, it alleged, divert attention from the tardy rehabilitation measures—a charge coming from a group that was slammed for its conspicuous absence in the rescue and flood relief operations.
Even though the NC has been part of the Vajpayee government at the Centre, the BJP would hesitate to have any pre-election deal with it in view of the six years of incumbency as evidenced in the party and its Congress ally drawing a blank in the parliamentary polls in the state.
The BJP would be eyeing other frontiers, including Assam and Kerala in the east and the south and states like Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu where elections are due in 2015 and 2016.
If Modi and the BJP manage to establish themselves in the sensitive border state, they would be in a position to claim to be all inclusive and pan Indian in the real sense of the term.
If the Kashmiris halt the Modi’s political tour, the BJP may have to suffer.
*د. عبد راف *
Educationist, Prolific writer, Specialist on State Terrorism; Chronicler of Foreign occupations &
Freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.) Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International
Affairs(CIA); Commentator on world affairs & sport fixings, Expert on
Mideast Affairs, university teacher; Author of books/ebooks; Editor.
Unfortunately, today there is not even one Muslim nation
today practicing truly Islamic faith and life.
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