Modi's Kashmir challenge
A principal reason for Narendra Modi being swept to power in May was disgust with Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh — indecisive, short on ideas, bereft of charisma and supervising a government of scams
A principal reason for Narendra Modi being swept to power in May was disgust with Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh — indecisive, short on ideas, bereft of charisma and supervising a government of scams. And, for the first time in decades, a single party government came to power.
Modi’s (left) innings will be defined by the power sharing govt in Kashmir with Mufti (right). File Pic
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is committed to Hindu nationalism. This does strike a chord with a majority of Hindus. But the storm troopers who helped bring BJP to power were from ultra Hindutva groups like the RSS and the VHP. These extremist groups went on a rampage demanding the reconversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. Hindu women must produce five children to boost population; they must resist an inexplicable quantity called “Love Jihad”. Modi waited and watched from an ambiguous distance.
By their excesses, they ended up embarrassing the majority of Hindus along with other Indians. This when that very helpful tailwind, the anti-incumbency against Sonia, Rahul and Manmohan Singh had disappeared. The international talent Corporate India had mobilised for one full year, buying up every square inch of media space to build up Modi as the development messiah, was no longer available. And, above all, prices of food had risen sky high.
Then came a series of by elections in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. The Modi magic appeared not to be working. Then came the elections to the Delhi State Assembly and the Aam Aadmi Party trounced the BJP. Later, there was general nervousness among big industry and their multinational partners: What kind of budget will Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley produce? They have produced a market-friendly budget focused on massive infrastructure projects, putting out allurements to invite Foreign Direct Investment. The Corporates were overjoyed. In fact, Modi has placed himself at the mercy of Corporates: It is in your interest, he seems to be telling India Inc to keep the BJP government buoyant with cent per cent media support on the scale that was available to the party ever since Modi’s candidature was announced in June 2013.
The riveting development that will define Modi’s innings, has been the power sharing government in Kashmir. This has opened up the possibility of improved relations with Pakistan which in turn will bring down the communal temperature, an enabling precondition for accelerated economic growth. The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, is the most astute leader of the Peoples Democratic Party. He has vast experience of Delhi too where he has served as the union home minister. He is familiar with all the caverns of intrigue on the Delhi, Srinagar, Islamabad axis.
Recently, columnist Swaminathan Aiyar lifted the scab from an old wound: the genocide of over 2,00,000 Muslims in Jammu before the accession of the state by Maharaja Hari Singh into the Indian Union. The later migration of 4,00,000 Kashmiri Pandits from the valley to Jammu, according to Aiyar, is a living tragedy though not quite as gruesome as the Jammu massacres.
That the BJP and the PDP have joined hands in Kashmir against the backdrop is laden with possibilities. Summer is round the corner. A bumper season to boost tourism in the most magnificent parts of the state right upto the Gurez valley is possible in conditions of peace. It will open up hearts and minds.
“Hasad se dil agar afsurda hai,
Garme tamasha ho
Ki chashm e tung shayad kasrat e
Nazzara se waa ho.”
(If meanness and malice oppress the heart, step out and travel,
Narrowness of vision may open up with the abundance of the spectacle.)
A senior commentator on political and diplomatic affairs, Saeed Naqvi can be reached on email@example.com.
The views expressed are personal.