Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jammu & Kashmir elections: The rise of BJP, return of National Conference

The electorate of Jammu and Kashmir have thrown an interesting verdict. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the biggest gainer. Though it will sit in the opposition, the large number of party MLAs from Jammu, will change the complexion of the Assembly.

It will also give a strong voice to the people of Jammu. Though the party improved is performance at the cost of Congress and PDP over a issue that polarised people on communal lines, it would hopefully end the feeling of voicelessness among the residents of Jammu and the persecution complex that they are ignored at the cost of Valley.

The seven phase election that was held in the backdrop of the Shree Amarnath Shrine Board land controversy and that witnessed escalating tension between India and Pakistan after the Mumbai terrorist attack, was conducted without any major violence. The turnout was historic.

Apart from the four major parties, National Conference (NC), People's Democratic Party (PDP), Congress and BJP, the independents and others also appear all set to garner a chunk of seats in the 87 member house. Congress had to pay for the mistakes of Ghulam Nabi Azad government.

It is most likely that Farooq Abdullah-Omar Abdullah's NC will form the government with the support of Congress. Though nothing is impossible in politics, Mufti Mohammed Saeed and his daughter Mahbooba are likely to sit in the opposition as they were bitter rivals with NC and may not have a truck with them.

With a strong Jammu-based BJP speaking on behalf of Kashmiri Pundits, Hindus and Sikhs, and another strong party [PDP] representing the Valley, also sitting in the opposition, it will not be easy for the ruling coalition to get away on crucial issues easily. The BJP hasn't done much except lip-service to the cause of migrant pundits and it has an opportunity now. All parties can now mull over ways to solve this issue.

One hopes that the next Assembly that is reflective of all sections of J&K would be a place to discuss developmental issues rather than divisive politics and communal agenda. Most of us pray that violence and bloodshed would end, the voice of the Kashmiri Hindus also gets heard and there are steps to redress the issues of migrant Hindus and Pandit families as well as efforts to create jobs for youths in Kashmir.

Earlier posts on J&K on this blog this year:
1. The Amarnath shrine board controversy
2. Muslims support Hindu stand on Amarnath issue