If anything, the ousted minister Chaudhary Lal Singhs rally in support of the CBI probe in Kathua rape and murder has revealed a troubling political state of affairs prevailing in Jammu. Lal Singh has seemingly taken on his party on the issue and sided with the rightwing groups supporting the accused in the ghastly crime. He also called on the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to resign for her failure to address the demand for the CBI probe. The BJP, however, has dissociated from the Singhs rally, saying whatever the latter said or did was his own politics. The party has also started an “internal inquiry” against Lal Singh and another axed minister Chander Prakash Ganga for earlier taking part in Hindu Ekta Manch rally in support of the accused. The enquiry has been ordered by the party’s Kashmir in-charge and the architect of the PDP-BJP coalition Ram Madhav and its conclusion will be submitted to the BJP president Amit Shah.
However, such an enquiry runs contrary to the party’s stand that the two ministers had been sent to attend the Ekta Manch rally by the party itself albeit, in the partys words, they were sent there to pacify the crowds. But as Lal Singhs continuing defiance of the BJP underlines, the situation on the ground doesnt correspond with the partys apparent position. In fact, the signals are confusing. If the ousted ministers are publicly going against the BJPs position on the Kathua crime by seeking a CBI probe, why isnt any action being initiated against them. This is creating a perception that the BJP is playing both sides maintaining a position that it doesnt want a CBI investigation but at the same time letting its axed minister seek such a probe and also hold a rally to mount public pressure for the demand. The party, thus, has conveniently chosen to talk in different tongues to keep all sides happy.
In fact, along the way, the party seems to have played some unseemly tricks for some political mileage. For example, a television channel seen close to the saffron party ran a story that all the BJP ministers were going to resign to apparently press their demand for a CBI probe. The story also implied as if the BJP was going to pull out of the coalition government. But actually the resignations were a routine affair, a normal requirement for a reshuffle. The point is such a low level of politics, where a ruling party deliberately adopts an ambivalent approach towards a horrible crime will hardly help the state of affairs in J&K. Such a politics can hardly be expected to rise above its petty interests to resolve the bigger issues facing the state. If a crime of the magnitude of the rape of an eight year old girl becomes a politically contentious issue, there is little hope that there could ever be a consensus to honestly address the festering grievances underpinning the reigning turmoil in the Valley. Onus is on the PDP to hold its recalcitrant coalition partner to its side of the bargain and demand it doesnt communalize the situation in the state.
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