PM Modi's Kashmir Speech Shows Why BJP Supporters Are Wrong About J&K Polls

29 November 2014
Sandipan Sharma

New Delhi: When he spoke at Udhampur on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi focused only on one word: development. Many contentious issues that were once part of the BJP rhetoric on Kashmir were missing from the speech. Modi, it is clear, realizes that this election is different from every other in the past and he needs to tamper down the expectations and fears that have surrounded his party's campaign in the state. The BJP cadres and its supporters are convinced that the result of the ongoing election in Jammu and Kashmir will decisively settle all doubts over the integration of the state with India. Most of them feel if the PM delivers Kashmir into the BJP basket, he would settle Sardar Patel's unfinished agenda and bring the curtain down on the controversial accession of Kashmir by India. Their belief is based on two basic arguments. One, the entire country is in the grip of a Modi wave. If Kashmir too votes for the PM's party, it would automatically imply that the North Indian state has integrated itself politically with the mainstream. Two, the BJP has been a pariah in the politics of J&K, especially in the Valley where the Muslim majority sees it as a symbol of Hindutva. So, if the BJP manages to accomplish its 'Mission 44' in the 87-member Assembly, it would be a clear sign that the Valley has rejected the two-nation theory that is the root cause of this genesis and is ready to be assimilated in the Indian mainstream. In the past, the Congress has been part of many governments in the state. The National Conference and PDP have been major players in the state's politics, but many BJP supporters irrationally believe only their party represents the 'Indian side' in the election. Convinced that the BJP is about to win a watershed election in Jammu and Kashmir, its supporters have been inundating the social media with messages with just one underlying theme: 'Wait for the Kashmir results; the world would recognize the legitimacy of the Indian stand on the state and Pakistan would become a butt of joke.' PM Narendra Modi in Kashmir today. PM Narendra Modi in Kashmir today. Kashmir is an integral part of India and Pakistan's stand on the state has suffered many setbacks in the past. But the kind of nostrum BJP supporters have in mind for the state can create its own set of problems. What if-and this is quite likely-the results create a clear Kashmir vs Jammu divide; a situation that would arise if the Valley rejects the party that Jammu selects? Will it not reaffirm the argument that the state represents two disparate ideologies? Also, there is the risk of J&K proving to be a counterpoint to the argument that the BJP is now acceptable to Muslims. Out of the 87 seats in the state, 59 have a majority of Muslim voters. What if the BJP doesn't win any of them? So, Modi is being careful and taking precautions to ensure that the election is fought only on the issue of development. He wants it to be seen as a choice between the years of rule by NC-Cong-PDP and the promise held out by the BJP instead of getting carried away by his supporters who are building it up as a quasi referendum on some larger issues. 'They looted us, emotionally blackmailed you for decades. But now you have the option of electing an honest government that would bring about a visible change, ' Modi argued at Udhampur. He also pointed out that the high turnout of voters indicated a resounding victory of ballot over bullet. He is absolutely right. The record voting in Kashmir this year is just because of Modi: either people are voting for him or they are turning up at poll booths in the Valley to keep his party away. This is a big achievement since it has forced people to participate in the democratic process, whatever be their motive, and marginalized separatists. The BJP may not win Kashmir. But its electoral push has managed to impart more credibility to the elections in the eyes of the international audience.