BJP’s bomb Pakistan demand and PDP’s silence

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The militant attack at Pampore which killed eight CRPF personnel has generated some heat in the Assembly too. The ruling BJP has called for an aerial bombing of the militant training camps in Pakistan “to achieve the objective of ending infiltration”. The party also called for attacking Pakistan Army posts on the border and rethinking dialogue with the neighbouring country. Ironically, it was left to the opposition National Conference to counsel restraint. NC leader Devendra Rana accused BJP of creating “war hysteria” and instigating Pakistan to respond in kind. The PDP which has always strongly batted for dialogue with Islamabad has adopted a cryptic silence, creating in the process an interesting triangular situation. State BJP has taken an aggressive line against Pakistan in contrast to the party’s government at the centre. The move is obviously geared to its constituency in Jammu, with an eye on the spin-offs in the rest of the country. And raising the issue in an ongoing Assembly session is the best way to get the  maximum publicity.  

If anything, the state BJP’s inherently hostile approach towards Pakistan, tempered little by the government of the same party at centre, reveals the basic political contradiction that is currently hobbling New Delhi’s relations with the neighbouring country. The truth is that BJP has always politically mined Kashmir and Pakistan for their Muslim majority character. It has often used the two to mobilize public opinion in India. In fact, a part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s journey to the centre stage of the  Indian politics was covered by advocating a hostile policy towards Pakistan, something that finds  an easy resonance  among the majority of India’s population.  So, BJP can hardly afford to abandon this policy. Whenever there is a militant attack, it has to ratchet up the rhetoric to be true to its nationalistic image. This is why we often we see the party adopting opposition-like tactics in power. More so in J&K, the state it has most exploited to score the easy political brownie points. 

If anything, it is BJP’s this anti-thetical ideological moorings that make the PDP-BJP alliance an everyday struggle.  Stripped of the fancy arguments that PDP has dished out to embrace BJP – talks with Pakistan, separatists, Article 370, AFSPA etc – the only strong case for a PDP-BJP government is its apparent capacity to provide a good government in terms of funds and development.  But its Achilles heel will always be the politics and the ideology of the BJP. PDP can’t thus escape the grievous political costs of overlooking it anymore than NC did by conniving at the Congress policies. And this is a tragedy for PDP which has politically just arrived on the scene. In allying with the BJP, PDP is up against a lot of history, baggage, agenda, ideology and of course everyday dilemmas which if not handled to the expectations of its constituency could decimate PDP.

At the same time, BJP can hardly expect to do politics over every violent incident and hope to sustain dialogue with Pakistan, let alone arrive at a political understanding over the issues dividing them: the issues that have been fuelling violence and discord in the region  over the for the past sixty eight years.

 

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