Muscular approach always at core of BJP’s Kashmir Policy

Since the inception of BJP’s predecessor, Bharatiya Jan Sangh, to the present, Jammu and Kashmir has been an integral part of the party’s discourse. BJS founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee died in the state while taking up the issue of “one country, one Constitution”, the abrogation of Article 370 that gives special status to the state is one of party’s key goals, the Muslim majority state is high on the party’s target while espousing nationalism, and it has always slammed Congress and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for failing to resolve territorial issues at the border with Pakistan.

Two years after its formation in October 1951, Jan Sangh lost its founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee when he visited Kashmir to protest against the permit system needed for entering the state. He died on June 23, 1953 in prison in Srinagar. BJP veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani would refer to Kashmir in virtually every speech on Mookerjee.

Walking out of the coalition government led by PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti gives BJP a free hand to espouse all issues it has raised vis-à-vis Kashmir.

Abrogation of Article 370- which gives special status to J&K- is being raked up after the break-up with PDP though it is clear that there is little possibility of this seeing the light of day.

The Muslim majority border state has also been a target for the BJP when it adopts a tough stance against Pakistan. The Kargil War (May-July, 1999) was won during the Prime Ministership of Vajpayee and (along with the Pokharan II nuclear tests of 1998) was a major reason for NDA getting the numbers in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

BJP office bearers and union ministers have categorically said that a tough stance would be adopted in Kashmir in the fight against terrorism in the coming days. The party will gain politically from this in other parts of the country where its cadre is enthused by strong action against militants.

The strong nationalist rhetoric from the BJP under Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministership also gets a shot in the arm from the developments in Kashmir. The RSS and BJP cadre in the Valley, Jammu and the rest of the country was feeling down by the alliance with PDP and increasingly alleged that Mehbooba Mufti—who headed the Unified Command as chief minister- was behind the “soft” approach towards terrorism and stone-pelters.

Governor’s Rule in J&K has suited BJP in the past. Under Vajpayee, a retired IPS officer Girish Chandra Saxena served as the Governor of the state and there was a fall in militant activity under him. He was followed by retired Lieutenant General SK Sinha.

Governor NN Vohra is set to be replaced after August but there are clear signs- the appointment of retired IPS officer Vijay Kumar of Veerappan encounter fame as advisor to Governor being one- that a muscular approach is in the approach towards terrorism and stone-pelters.

Lastly, the unresolved Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir issue gives BJP a handle to slam Congress and Rahul Gandhi, whose great-grandfather Nehru failed to sort it out.

BJP has criticised Nehru for internationalising the issue by taking it to the UN and also emphasised that Sardar Patel would have integrated the whole of Kashmir into India.

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