Former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Omar Abdullah is on a visit to Kishtwar region in Chenab Valley of Jammu region in what is essentially seen as a political step by the Vice President of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference to revive the political process in Jammu & Kashmir, and instill confidence in the workers and members of his party on ground; this amidst talks of the completion of the delimitation process and subsequent holding of elections in the Jammu & Kashmir, the motion for which could be set by the announcement of the restoration of the statehood to J&K, which is currently being administered as a Union Territory, since August 2019; when Article 370 & 35A of the Constitution of India was repealed and former state of Jammu & Kashmir was split into two and demoted to status of a Union Territory.
Omar Abdullah in his public speeches took both the Congress party and the PDP to task. He expressed his dismay at lack of interest shown by Congress party and its complete silence on the restoration of Article 370 and Article 35 A of the Constitution of India. He also directed his anger at Mehbooba Mufti led PDP holding it responsible for the entry of BJP in political corridors of Jammu & Kashmir, referring to BJP – PDP political alliance that took power in erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 under leadership of former Chief Minister of J&K, Mufti Mohammad Syed. But which soon fell apart in 2018. Omar Abdullah’s direct attack at both Congress and PDP is seen as his political move to regain space as the dominant political party of the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir. This, however, also signals revival of political process in Jammu & Kashmir in anticipation of the holding of elections in the Union Territory. This also comes in the wake of intense political turmoil within Jammu & Kashmir state unit of Congress party that is witnessing battle for supremacy between Rahul Gandhi backed Ghulam Ahmad Mir and Ghulam Nabi Azad. Given these interesting developments, it will be interesting to analyze course of future political developments that may unfold in Jammu & Kashmir.
From all indications given by Delhi, it is clear that the delimitation process will soon submit its report and contrary to speculations the difference between seats allocated to Kashmir valley and Jammu region is not expected to be huge. Given the recent political history of elections, it is clear that while BJP is the dominant political force in Jammu region, Kashmir valley remains a crowded place. More than the party wining majority in future elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the party that will emerge as the single largest will have the greatest chance of capturing power in J&K. And amongst the given choices, BJP is the only political party that stands the best chance to emerge as the single largest party of the Jammu & Kashmir, given its commanding position in Jammu region, especially in the Hindu dominated four districts of Jammu. There are less chances of either Jammu & Kashmir National Conference or the PDP emerging as single largest party as their reach is largely restricted to Kashmir valley, where the field is already too much crowded by the presence of both old traditional and new emergent political parties.
And amidst this political chaos lies the fate of Congress party in Jammu & Kashmir, which is no longer what it used to decades back, when Congress Chief Ministers ruled the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir for nearly two decades. Congress party is much weaker and restricted to few pockets in both Kashmir valley and Jammu region. The Congress party, however, even within its diminished status remains an important political party in Jammu & Kashmir. Interestingly, there are various speculations about the future political role of Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Congress Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and without any doubt the tallest Congress leader from Jammu and Kashmir. Ghulam Nabi Azad is part of what is called as Congress “old guard” that is at loggerheads with younger generation of Congress leaders led by Rahul Gandhi regarding the functioning of Congress party and its presidentship. The current Congress President of J&K, G.A.Mir is seen close to Rahul & Priyanka Gandhi, even as large majority of the party workers of Jammu and Kashmir Congress appear to be in support of Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has an impeccable reputation as secular and able administrator, who is equally popular in both Jammu region and Kashmir valley across all sections and religious communities of both regions. There are also speculations that if the internal strife within Congress party will remain unresolved, Ghulam Nabi Azad may even form his own political outfit in J&K. If that is to ever happen, it will further crowd an already crowded field of political participants, especially impacting Kashmir valley.
Also, the current utterances of Omar Abdullah indicate unbridgeable rift between Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti led PDP, which does not augur well for anti-BJP opposition in Jammu & Kashmir. If both the National Conference and the PDP were to fight separately along with other newly emergent political parties of Kashmir valley and probable entry of Ghulam Nabi Azad as a separate political entity, the resulting political chaos is only going to benefit the BJP as its competition in Jammu region will be weakened further with the weakening of Congress, helping the party to emerge as the single largest political party in future elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
There are still many months left before Jammu and Kashmir is administratively ready for elections. Things can change very rapidly at short notice given the dynamic nature of political situation both in Kashmir valley as well as rest of India. But one thing is clear that political shenanigans have begun and dice has been rolled by recent political statements made by Omar Abdullah in Kishtwar region. We will soon come to know, at which side of the tide the political fate of Jammu and Kashmir will flow.
Javed Beigh is General Secretary of People's
Democratic Front. Views expressed his personal.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK