Why J&K may be headed for trifurcation?


The drift of events- delay of government formation – may,in the final analysis, lead to the trifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

This assertion is not as bizarre as it sounds. Consider the following. As the PDP delays government formation, things get difficult for the party.  There are essentially two options for the party. In the first scenario, the PDP disavows the BJP and goes for re-elections.  The second scenario lends itself to the conclusion that the PDP bargains hard with the BJP and strikes a deal- more funding for the state and improved governance. The hope here would be to cannibalize the financial windfall and governance dividend towards political ends.

Let’s consider scenario two first.

This scenario may, among other things, explain the PDP’s membership drive. The party may be using the membership drive as a signaling mechanism to powers that be at the Centre of the PDP’s relevance and salience and use this as a negotiating leverage. The major problem with this scenario/option –subsidizing politics through money and “improved governance”-is that it has not historically worked in the Kashmir division of the state. Whilst it may give a reprieve to party workers and cadres in terms of patronage disbursing powers, this approach is unlikely to yield any great dividends.

This leaves us with option/scenario one: disavowing the BJP and seeking a fresh mandate.  Parting ways with the BJP is an approach that could either happen in connivance with the BJP(behind the scenes) or  it could accrue because of a genuine rupture. In this scenario, which a dear friend of mine pointed out, the PDP plays the “divorce from the BJP” card in Kashmir and takes recourse to a blame game against the BJP; the far right party, the BJP , does the same in Jammu blaming the PDP. Either case leads to polarization in the state. The major fault lines that define the state of Jammu and Kashmir come out in the open and denoue in a way that deepens and fractures these further.   The sheer momentum of events, in this schema, can potentially lead to the trifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir with each region or division going its own way.

There is another reason that may lend itself to the trifurcation theme.

This pertains to the fragmentation and fracturing of the Kashmiri vote on account of the duopolistic political structure that obtains in Kashmir contemporarily(PDP and the NC as major competitors). In any permutation and combination, and whatever the nature and intensity of ant-incumbency either against the PDP or the NC, neither party will disappear as a political force in Kashmir. The seat share may see saw but the vote share that will accrue to each party will remain somewhat equipoised. The implications and consequences of this would be that while the Kashmiri vote will remain divided and fragmented, Jammu division of the state could become the political centre of gravity of main stream politics of the state.  Whosoever consolidates Jammu will be the king maker of Kashmir’s politics.  A historically anomalous condition, it will , most likely, be resisted in Kashmir and Jammu, with its new found position , will not yield its new status- a condition that may suit powers that be at the Centre.

A conflict or a new layer of conflict will be superimposed on existing ones and lead to a situation wherein trifurcation of the state becomes rather inevitable. Whether this scenario will pan out or not will be contingent on the intensity of the rivalry between the NC and the PDP in Kashmir and the nature of the relationship between the PDP and the BJP. If power politics or the quest for power- something wherein extraneous players become paramount and can play one against the other- then the trifurcation theory holds water. But if more altruistic motives predominate, then trifurcation gets averted.  But, rarely, is politics a game of altruism.  In conjunction with dilly dallying over government formation and the very peculiar nature of politics in Jammu and Kashmir , then it would appear that , sooner or later, the state of Jammu and Kashmir may ultimately be trifurcated- condition whose consequences are difficult to fathom at this point in time.

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