Setting the political canvas

Grappling with the shadows, grasping the coming events
Members of PAGD during a meet [Representational Image]
Members of PAGD during a meet [Representational Image] File: Mir Imran/ GK

Amid opposition parties’ renewed unifying efforts at the national level, this may be anybody’s guess that they are fastening belts to unseat their common bête-noire Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections of 2024. However, one wonders if these attempts will have a spiralling effect on J&K too.

After all, J&K mainstream parties, even their fragments and many splinter groups have their ‘strings’ attached to one or the other national or regional party across the country in a perfect political symbiotic relationship. (To keep the records straight, BJP is no exception to this thumb-rule of the game of politics).  

So if they (J&K politicians) take clues (for forming formidable combinations) from their political friends or mentors (sometimes even from foes) at the national political-scape, it is certainly not a big deal and there’s nothing wrong with it also.

This has happened in the past and will continue in future as well. But the question remains- Is there any possibility of such a combination coming into existence in J&K?

To gauge it, one may have a close scrutiny of its (BJP’s) main political opponents desperate to take on it in the electoral arena to get back what they perceive to be their exclusive domain i.e., power in J&K. Conclusion is, chances (of their coming on a single platform) don’t seem to be very rosy.

Plainly speaking, the reason is not that BJP is invincible, by any stretch of imagination and the political opponents are overawed by the leverage it has, being in power, both at the Centre and in the Union Territory (indirectly). Has it become deep entrenched across J&K in the recent past? No, even that's not true.

Undoubtedly it has emerged as a very daunting force in Jammu and vociferously trying to gain a foothold in Kashmir as well. But these are not reasons intimidating enough to overawe and prevent the opposition parties in J&K to cobble an alliance against it. Rather this can be a raison detre for them to get united.

But this is not happening. Notwithstanding some half-hearted attempts in this direction, broadly, this proposition seems to be a far-cry.
Why? Reason is three-pronged.

The first and foremost reason is an open secret and that relates to inherent contradictions among the opposition ranks and their conflicting interests. This is true of even those mainstream parties which are actually trying to build an alliance in J&K.

People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) constituents, trying to broaden their base by including Jammu based opposition parties and splinter groups, may be taken as a genuine attempt. But its success may seem to be doubtful in the backdrop of bickering which percolates down to the lower rungs.

Even if they become successful, on the face of it, will the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party or for that matter Congress and their other prospective allies (including those from Jammu) be able to ensure effective transfer of their votes to the common candidate? This will be the most ticklish question.

Leadership joining hands (willingly or unwillingly for political compulsions) does not translate into automatic transfer of votes. The alliance among parties having conflicting interests and innate ideological differences is always fraught with the danger of one or the other ally being devoured by the bigger partner politically, thus posing a real existential threat.

Such an alliance may prove to be a tricky task to manage as it demands “sharp (political) shooters” who can manoeuvre to topple opponents and can also maintain delicate balance among allies without perpetuating fear of getting devoured politically.

For the time being, the constituents are pinning hopes on the National Conference patriarch to don this mantle. But will it be a safe bet?
Seemingly even the PAGD constituents are not very sure of it because they know that one cannot predict or understand the electorate's whims or pulse always correctly.

To surrender their constituencies nurtured for decades and fed on venom against the same allies is not easy. Moreover, it also sends conflicting signals among their loyal electorate.

Second obstacle in the way of political unity is the lack of a definite poll plank which can be a unifying factor and can also find resonance with the electorate.

Just think over it and one may come across only a mishmash of issues. Some are not resonating with the electorate. Others may not click with one or the other ally, so the situation will be back to square-one.
Third and important reason in the present context is looming uncertainty over the timing of assembly elections in J&K.

This has generated a kind of fatigue factor both among the political parties and the electorate. To maintain unity and momentum of the issues to be raised as poll planks for a long (unspecified period) has been a challenging task.

The electorate, with a real short memory as they say, too get bogged down over a long period of time by the planks which sound repetitive and don't resonate with them. It will be politically suicidal for the political parties to flog a dead horse.

On the other hand, this fatigue factor may help the ruling clique to some extent to de-motivate the political detractors. But this cannot help it to win the end-game, which actually matters.

It (ruling clique) may get an opportunity to further solidify its position, shine its electoral prospects and in rare cases, off-set anti-incumbency. However, this may prove its wild imagination as in a democracy the electorate have the real potential to spring a surprise.

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.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir