RAJ DALUJAJAMMU: In 2014, the turbulent history of Jammu and Kashmir had bestowed Bharatiya Janata Party an opportunity to undertake course correction of blunders committed in the politically volatile erstwhile State in general and the Jammu region in particular. However, lust for money and power of the politically naïve and morally and materially corrupt leadership lost this first and perhaps the last opportunity. Jammu had massively mandated BJP to undo the injustice of nearly seven decades, to let the people of this region feel as equals and to dispense governance expected of a ‘party with difference’. All these hopes were belied the very first day of the BJP entering into corridors of power in the company of Kashmir centric Peoples Democratic Party. Those believing it to be the party of devout ‘politicians’ were shocked to see them playing second fiddle to Kashmir centric masters and feeling elated over being at the beck and call of ‘even small time politicians’ from across the Banihal tunnel. Leave apart the Jammu interest; they bartered the Dogra pride for few loaves of power and ‘left over of the booty’, most of them got. The shocked Jammuites saw how their BJP tigers started crawling at the diktats of the PDP even though they were being only told to bow. This was not what Jammu had voted for. Seeing the (mal) functioning of the BJP ministers, the disgusted voters of Jammu were forced to draw parallels between its leaders and those from the other parties like the Congress and the National Conference, who were shade better than the neo-factotums from this region. At least the non-BJP leaders would remain accessible to the people and find redressal to their problems, no matter in lieu of what. The BJP herd in the ministry left not only their supporters and core party workers in lurch but started treating the common people with contempt. The gap between the people and the BJP ministers started widening and reached such a saturation point that they had to go in hibernation once thrown out of the power corridors. In their nearly three years’ honeymoon with the PDP, they promoted a culture of Babuism. This was not just because of their naivety in administration but with a purpose. Once giving absolute power to some of their blue-eyed officers in the bureaucracy for satiating their vested interest, they encouraged the culture of unaccountability. This made the chosen few all powerful and eventually so arrogant that they started caring two hoots for the people. Many of them were prized with several key departments as additional charge so as to make hay while sun was shining. Enjoying limitless patronage, the pampered officers are brazenly behaving like masters, instead of public servants. Some of them keep presiding over most important departments despite involved in cases of omission and commission. Their clout has touched seventh sky as they feel accountable to none. They have mushroomed transfer industry and keep using notorious mode of red tapism to make people fall in line. Now that the former BJP ministers have become non-entities due to public outrage, they have virtually turned impotent in asserting their political stature despite belonging to the ruling party at the Centre. In normal circumstances, change of guard, first in the state and later in the Union Territory, would have mattered least so far their political clout was concerned but due to their misdeeds and shady past as ministers, nobody is listening to them. They may be calling shots from their ivory towers but at ground zero nobody is taking them seriously-neither people nor those in the government. This has created a political vacuum that is accumulating the problems of the people. Due to inaccessibility, every segment of society is suffering. This realization is perhaps dawning at New Delhi as well, which is why an unprecedented ‘public outreach programme’ has been launched by fanning out administrative secretaries to listen to the problems of people. This is acknowledgment of the widening gap between the government and the public. Bureaucrats cannot be substitute to political activists, who are from among the masses. But due to surrender of the local BJP leaders, the bureaucrats are playing at their turf. The Jammu BJP might be having well meaning leaders and workers but their number is quite negligible. They can be counted on finger tips. Exceptions never make rule. And this truth is going to haunt the BJP, which used to be heartbeat of Jammu once upon a time. The sunken heart is hard to get revived. Even Narendra Modi magic cannot help reviving it this point of time. The BJP’s disconnect with people is going to take its toll. The trailer has got well-played during the recently held Panchayat and Block Development Council elections.
TO BE CONCLUDED
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