In the veil of political smoke screen post reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir and farewell to the discriminatory provisos of Article 370, new Bakshis are currently in the process of making in Kashmir, as the so-called mainstream NC and PDP have lost their plots. The situation is akin to post Sheikh Abdullah arrest era of 1953, which saw the emergence of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed. It will, however, be interesting to watch whether the fruit trader turned politician will fit in the shoes of legendary former Prime Minister Bakshi, who is still held in esteem by old-guards, primarily for his huge role in emotional integration of Kashmir with rest of India apart from laying a sound edifice of infrastructural development in the then largest princely state of the region. Jammu and Kashmir is not the few vocal Kashmiri speaking and Suni Muslim dominated districts of the Valley-a myth promoted and sustained by the Nehruvian class of politicians for over seven decades. It is about Jammu, the proud land of Dogras that established the largest state in the lap of Himalayas two hundred years ago under stewardship of Maharaja Gulab Singh. It was also about Ladakh, the moon-land of Lamas, who suffered ignominy and neglect at the hands of Kashmir centric rulers but never reconciled with it. They rebelled and revolted and got what is now drawn on the map of India as new Union Territory of Ladakh. Jammu continues to remain part of the marginalized erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, which, geographically far lesser than Ladakh, too finds place in the country’s map as a Union Territory. Now the stateless subjects of Jammu have to decide whether to remain under the shadow of big brother Kashmir or assert as equals in every sphere of statecraft. The assertion is important. In the fast changing political dynamics of the reorganized Jammu and Kashmir need is being felt about new political reorientation. The traditional national or regional politics is hugely becoming redundant in the new setup, which unfolded itself in immense measure during the recently held elections to the Block Development Councils. The BJP got the drubbing it perhaps deserved, the JKNPP managed a slight face saver and the proxies of the Congress, National Conference and the PDP brought to fore the shocking fact that they are welcome as independents but not as party activists. Had they got the party tags, which they couldn’t due to boycott by the three parties, they would have certainly finished as worst losers. The people of Jammu have developed aversion to Kashmir centric NC and the PDP, as also the Congress to some extent, for their anti-India posturing. For the defeat, the BJP cannot take solace in the term ‘complacency’ which its leaders are trying to spell out for losing many and winning just 81 of the 310 positions of BDC chairpersons. The BJP has been rejected by the Jammu rural electors for pursuing opportunistic power politics, indulging in massive corruption in the coalition ministry led by the PDP and becoming willing second fiddlers to Kashmir centric masters. The scenario in the urban Jammu is far severe and colossal against the BJP, notwithstanding the fact that the region continues to love Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. Like other parts of the country, the Jammu voter too is intelligent enough to differentiate between national and regional politics. They may vote for the BJP when it comes to national elections but will certainly exercise options while choosing MLAs, like the electors of Haryana and Maharashtra, which went to polls recently. In this changing political landscape what can be alternative for Jammu to assert itself as equal and strong partner in the new UT politics? The BJP is conscious of its vulnerability, as the acts of misgovernance and corruption are haunting even to its core constituency of RSS. The Congress, the NC and the PDP stand marginalized and outdated in Jammu politics. The NPP will not be a factor to cut much ice for bargaining power with Kashmir’s new Bakshis. All this leads to the need and role for a new front that is more nationalistic than the hyper nationalist BJP and more inclusive than the Constitution of India itself. Jammu has been secular to core, which it has demonstrated time and again. It can’t remain exclusive domain of a particular sect of people, given its demography. It has to be a vase of different flowers. It has to encompass in itself the people, who are nationalistic to the core. It has no scope for enteritis having slightest doubts about the merger and accession of Jammu and Kashmir with Indian domain. It cannot bring in its fold dubious elements, who have mastered in sitting on both sides of fences. It will have to give fair-deal to everyone and appeasement to none. It will have to isolate forces inimical to Indian nation. It will have to have political activists of integrity and repute.
Who will fit in the role of a leader in Jammu to erase the stigma of producing heretofore second fiddlers only? Jammu awaits rise of a Messiah, who can bargain with new Bakshis of Kashmir in the political set up, which is in the process of making.
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