More the merrier!!! Not Really!

And this has made the J&K electorate perplexed
"Tumultuous - may be the only apt expression to define it and the present electoral political scene in the Union Territory." [Representational Image]
"Tumultuous - may be the only apt expression to define it and the present electoral political scene in the Union Territory." [Representational Image] File

The more the merrier - they say. But the expression does not fit the bill in Jammu and Kashmir, certainly not at present - if one is analysing the political churning here.

If one talks in terms of electoral politics, seemingly the entire Union Territory has been in a state of political ferment, for quite some time. 

Mainly it is on account of fragmentation of major mainstream political parties - both regional as well as national. However the mushrooming of splinter socio-political groups with electoral ambitions in the past few years, too, has acted as a catalyst in the political excitement or say uncertainty - with a singular hope that (assembly) elections may be round the corner and all of a sudden, they may become relevant in the scheme of things.

In the process to carve a niche for themselves in a changed political-scape, a handful of (though not-so) new players are in the arena challenging the supremacy of old guards in a bid to unseat them. On the other hand, a good majority of the veterans is either too occupied in a battle to retain coveted positions in their chiselled (ancestral) spaces or is trying to make a mark with a new identity in a fragmented space (carved out of parent cell or party).

Meanwhile, some newbies too have entered the political scene and are making all out efforts to win over their prospective electorate.

If one doesn’t not get what exactly it (jugglery of words and expressions) conveys then the description of the scenario is on point and one is at the right space at the right time. 

Tumultuous - may be the only apt expression to define it and the present electoral political scene in the Union Territory.

And this has made the J&K electorate perplexed.

Trying to figure out the agenda of mainstream political parties, they (electorate including prospective first-timer voters), are amused as well as baffled to witness manoeuvring by politicians (of all categories) to outwit each other. But the catch is – the players (politicians) engaged in manoeuvring themselves are equally nervous and are taking a leap in the dark.

So that makes an interesting setting – in the backdrop of which electoral politics is unfolding in J&K. This comes to the fore even if one analyses the field positions of main players in the political arena.


To begin with the ruling clique, on the face of it, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is ruling at the Centre and indirectly in the Union Territory as well, seems to be comfortably placed in a politically stabilised zone. At least, its political opponents harbour this (mis)perception that they (J&K BJP leaders) have an upper hand in the political scheme of things, being part of the ruling dispensation. This may just partly be true.

As one should not forget - uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. 

In fact, most of the time, the J&K BJP finds itself in a ‘catch 22 situation.’ Being a national party, the decision-making does not come under the jurisdiction of the J&K unit. Even in the UT administration, they don’t have a direct say in day-to-day affairs or major policy matters.

No wonder, invariably it (J&K BJP) is caught unawares by ‘sudden major decision or policy’ announced by the central or the UT government. In the recent past, on many occasions, the J&K BJP unit has found itself in a quandary, trying to explain the rationale of a decision or policy, however good or public-friendly it may be, to unprepared or unwilling masses. 

As its political detractors used the opportunity found on the platter to “mislead or instigate masses to serve their vested interests” (as alleged by the Lieutenant Governor himself publicly a number of times), the J&K BJP faced an embarrassing situation. Faced with protests (even outside the BJP office in Jammu), the party’s UT leadership had a really tough time to handle and convince the enraged masses (protesters).

Amusingly, at times even if they (J&K BJP leaders) successfully managed to defuse the crisis to the satisfaction of protesting masses (employees or any other strata of society) using their ‘good offices’ in the UT administration or the central government, they could not seize the opportunity to their advantage. The political opponents, however, would not lose a moment to discredit it (BJP), claiming (even if falsely) that they (opposition leaders) “forced the government of the day or BJP to change its stance or eat a humble pie.”

If one is unwilling to accept this observation, one just needs to recall some recent developments vis-a-vis some crucial policy matters or decisions taken in J&K. On certain occasions, J&K BJP leaders, ‘stumped’ (not stunned) by the decision, initially (may be unwillingly) found duty-bound to endorse and support the decision of their own government unequivocally. However, faced by public outrage, they made a U-turn to stand beside their prospective electorate.

While on certain occasions, right from the word ‘Go’, they chose to support the overwhelming public stand (on that particular issue), sometimes mildly criticising the (UT) government stance and on one or two occasions, openly opposing it (for public perception).

For a reality check, one may glance through flip-flop statements of different J&K BJP leaders (also comprising PRI, ULB leaders including JMC Mayor) at different points of time appearing in different media, including newspapers, on decisions or issues related to Property Tax, employees/daily wagers, KP migrants, eviction drives, Mining, Excise Policy, JKSSB job aspirants etc.

Always in “electoral mode” amid growing political ambitions, J&K BJP leaders can be seen petitioning central leadership and UT administration flagging the concerns of masses on these issues after making statements in support of those decisions. 

One can conveniently gauge that the confusion reigns supreme among the UT leaders of the party and this percolates down to their core constituencies as well. What will be the outcome of these confused moves in the assembly elections, as and when they are announced and held - one cannot predict. But it can mar their dreams of forming a government on their own in J&K - is not difficult to guess.

Despite all their fumbling moves, one cannot deny J&K BJP leaders their due appreciation for their ‘never say die’ approach with which they manage a difficult “balancing act.” They can be seen facing enraged masses and at times embarrassing, awkward moments with gutsy spirit, reaffirming - when the going gets tough, the tough get going.


This is an irony that the ‘united opposition’ in J&K, in itself, is ‘confusion’ personified. Leave apart other issues, there is uncertainty even about their unity, their unanimity on different issues. The opposition is diverse, fragmented and colourful. 

Even, are all the constituents of ‘People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’ (PAGD) one? 

Notwithstanding their public posturing, even this question has no definite answer - certainly not with the electorate. 

Already fragmented (from what it was at the time of its formation), in the recent past, the PAGD gave hints of its expansion while luring and inviting Jammu based opposition parties, splinter socio-political groups to participate in its deliberations.

While J&K People’s Conference, one of its main constituents, has already parted its way, its (PAGD’s) other two main constituents Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress continue to emanate confusing signals.  At times, they stand in unison while on other occasions, they are found dithering also.

If one talks about the relationship between foes-turned-friends National Conference (NC) and PDP, inherent mutual distrust finds manifestations in varied forms.  This is in spite of the fact that the top leadership of both the parties is demonstrating an unusual restraint in public posturing of its unity.

  But the message, seemingly, has not percolated down the lower rungs and probably is not practical also. After all while sharing the same electoral constituency, who will cede the political space to whom - will remain a million dollar question. Reason behind separation of People’s Conference too was not very different. Besides it has faced the accusation of “being hand-in-glove” with the dispensation at the Centre also though its (JKPC’s) leadership has always been very robust in “giving back in equal measure” to such charges (mainly hurled by NC). 

Ties of NC and PDP with Congress, though, of late, have seen renewed warmth which finds expression in statements and gestures also but here also there is a tangle. And this relates to the clash of their regional and national aspirations and agendas. Issue-specific support so far has served as a common ground for the trio vis-a-vis PAGD. 

J&K Apni Party (JKAP) and Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), the fragments of PDP and Congress respectively, which have already jolted their ‘parent cells’ (parties) to an irreparable extent, have already maintained a safer distance (from PAGD). NC would love to have DPAP as PAGD constituent and in the recent past extended it invites also to be part of its deliberations.

But it cannot keep Congress with it (in PAGD) and have DPAP also there.  It will be tricky. Even otherwise, it is difficult for PAGD to understand DPAP supremo’s “Mann Ki Baat.”  JKAP is an ‘eyesore’ for both NC and PDP, so there’s no question of it sharing space with them.

Given these inherent contradictions within and also due to obvious political compulsions in the present scenario, PAGD has chosen to shift (more appropriately expand) its base to Jammu to cash on grouse among Jammu based opposition parties. 

For the time being, it has managed to win over JKNPP (earlier it was Prof Bhim Singh and now it’s Harsh Dev Singh); Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP) of Chowdhary Lal Singh; J&K Shiv Sena (Thakre) and few other splinter groups. They are regular participants in PAGD (or all party) meetings held in Jammu.

Come elections and their ‘unity’ will be at test as the general politics on both sides has so far survived and thrived on “Jammu versus Kashmir.” (NC, Congress and PDP (and now BJP, JKAP and DPAP also) may contest this observation but for the electorate this has been a stark reality, generally speaking.)

So, shall the twain ever meet this time? Leave this question for “Mr Future” to answer. 

Meanwhile till the time elections are announced (may or may not be in near future), the ruled (electorate) can enjoy this conundrum, cacophony, manoeuvres of political parties and to be precise, state of utter confusion.

But there is no doubt, whatsoever, that the pragmatic voters, as always, will deliver their verdict with aplomb at an appropriate time.

Author is  Jammu Bureau Chief, Greater Kashmir

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.

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