Modi, Kashmir and Opposition

Modi, Kashmir and Opposition

All men have their noble and baser instincts struggling within them and one will find that even in the most well-disciplined organisations, in the...

All men have their noble and baser instincts struggling within them and one will find that even in the most well-disciplined organisations, in the most well-balanced minds, after the noble instincts have well-established their sway, a moment comes when the smallest rift upsets the work of years, casts everything into confusion and generates a whirlwind at which those who knew the men before as good stand aghast.

History has ample testimonies to prove it. A skilled operator, our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has carefully planned his way up the ladder in the Bharatiya Janata Party, displaying considerable courage and ability whom the revolution of fortune had raised to an exalted position where his talents found a vast field for intrigue and duplicity.

The BJP's manifesto for 2019 general elections fully endorses the qualities of the Prime Minister and remains an extension of his dreams. The manifesto has immediately drawn the ire of the Opposition who ridiculed it as a cut and paste of the 2014 manifesto. This proves that it has not read it properly. The present manifesto is not about the party's 2014 promises.

This is an attempt to draw the entire nation into Kashmir-centric discussion which could easily be dubbed to tag the arguing voices as either nationalistic or anti-national.

This is a carefully laid out trap by the BJP which knows that it has a great wordsmith on its side in Narendra Modi who can easily tear into the Opposition with his simple yet, alluring narrative style. His pet theme is ultra- nationalism and the latest manifesto is rich with its content.

It talks of farmers, traders, health care, economy, welfare for poor and even transgenders, but coming to the Ram Mandir, it makes a mention of it, but promises to consider "all aspects" in dealing with it. It is virtually pushing it under the carpet. The party has not ignored by doing so, the Ram Mandir issue, but only ensured that its other allies don't get too ruffled.

To appease them and others, it has brought up Kashmir prominently to the fore by reiterating its position since the time of the Jan Sangh to the abrogation of Article 370.

It takes it further ahead and said the party also stands committed to annulling Article 35A of the Constitution, which it says is discriminatory against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir.

This is in tune with its thrust towards national security. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah and former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti have already joined the issue warning the government that it would reopen the very issue of Kashmir's union with India.

This followed a write-up in Arun Jaitley's blog about a week ago which said that 'the constitutionally vulnerable' Article 35A has denied the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir a booming economy, economic activity and jobs, even as he cautioned the Opposition parties in the State for being soft in criticizing separatism.

While there is a raging controversy as to how 35A came to be inserted in the Indian Constitution of 1954 which allows the state government to discriminate between citizens.

Earlier, the Congress in its earnest to garner Kashmiri votes and also to impact the minority segments elsewhere promised to abrogate the AFSPA in Kashmir. BJP insiders tell us that their leadership was keenly watching the Kashmir temperature seeking to raise it further and higher and such 'anti-national' statements were more than welcome.

Today, the senior Abdullah crossed the 'Laxman Rekha" further accusing Narendra Modi of engineering the Pulwama incident "all on his own" with an eye on the elections and said any meddling with 35A and Article 370 would only lead to freedom of Kashmir from India.

Such statements do not help the Opposition nor Kashmiris a bit as this language is the same as being used in Pakistan. From Imran Khan to Pakistan's lesser known Ministers, everyone is mouthing the same abuses against Modi to warn India of consequences of abrogation of the Articles.

The incorporation of these two Articles in the manifesto were preceded by closure of the Jammu-Srinagar highway for two days in a week on security purpose. This has enraged the Kashmiris who termed the situation 'Palestine-like", again to the benefit of the BJP elsewhere.

There is little patience or strategy on behalf of the Opposition not to fall into this web of intricate planning. It is soon going to raise the pitch of its protests much higher and allow Modi to make the best use of it. Modi will make mincemeat of the Opposition argument, linking it to separatists and more so, to the Pakistani establishment's arguments in this regard.

The likes of Farooq Abdullah's have waded too close to the neighbouring country's stand on Kashmir unwittingly and the BJP leadership is already happy over it. Arun Jaitley has already termed those opposing the abrogation of the two Articles as the voices representing the "tukde, tukde gang'.

To those who claim that the BJP could not counter Congress's NYAY programme at all, the explanation is simple. The BJP knows that Kashmir-Balakot-Pulwama-separatists-Pakistan narrative is far more powerful than the social or economic justice argument of the Congress.

And Narendra Modi knows that the Opposition does not have a pan-Indian voice comparable to his.

Great men are never sufficiently known but in hours of crisis, an adage goes to say. The Opposition is in tatters. It needs to get its act together in its own interest and gear up for taking on Modi's nationalism narrative forcefully.

"Soar not too high, O bird of Hope! Because the skies are fair/The tempest may come on apace and overcome thee there./ When far above the mountain tops thou soarest above all - If then, the storms should press thee back, how great would be thy fall ! (Ella Wheeler Wilcox).

Man is master of his destiny and he is made or unmade by himself. He weaves with a master hand the fabric of his own future and is the architect of his character, and fortune or misfortune. The Opposition must be vigilant about its own follies if it really seeks to take on Modi.

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