Why target Omar now?
It is unfortunate though not altogether surprising that the BJP has been quick to politicise the issue, particularly when the Chief Minister simply...
It is unfortunate though not altogether surprising that the BJP has been quick to politicise the issue, particularly when the Chief Minister simply reflected his agony as a sensitive person over a matter that concerns the nation and along with it his own State
The Chinese incursion in Daulat Beg Oldi area of Ladakh has evoked understandable concern across the nation. However reprehensible the action on the part of the Chinese�and this has been happening often�it deserves to be resolved with firm action, cold calculation and sangfroid on our part as a responsible power. Even so it does not certainly brook any jingoism of the kind that the far right of the BJP has been advocating, as it always does, perhaps to claim its patriotic credentials. The point at issue is the party's reaction to good-intentioned remarks of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, urging the Central government to be even-handed in its treatment of both China and Pakistan while dealing with intrusions on the borders; the Chief Minister's grouse being that while India usually shows firmness in dealing with Pakistan in all such matters, it becomes hesitant, if not soft, while picking up such issues with China. It is unfortunate though not altogether surprising that the BJP has been quick to politicize the issue, particularly when the Chief Minister simply reflected his agony as a sensitive person over a matter that concerns the nation and along with it his own State. Omar Abdullah made his point and went on to urge the Centre to nip the trouble quickly. He had also a reassuring word that the incident would not affect the tourist traffic in Ladakh since the trouble-spot is far deeper away. He reiterated the hope that tourists would turn up in large numbers during the spring and summer season. However, all this seems to be of little concern to the BJP and what seems to matter to it is to score brownie points. That's the trouble with the far right in general when it comes to dealing with anybody who is not on board with them politically. (On the other hand, there is the example of his naïve cousin, Mustafa Kamal, who pleads with the government to seek Pakistan's help in resolving the present tangle with China). A party like the BJP which is also the main Opposition in Parliament was expected to have a more sober approach to a problem with national and international ramifications. That apart, it should have displayed a better understanding of the people's mind in Kashmir. The State has suffered heavily in the wake of militancy which has of late been on the decline, albeit it has yet to completely die out. Any provocative act would only add to the volatility of the situation as we have seen. There is no doubt that the people in Kashmir suffer from no illusion about Pakistan's designs but they do regard the people across the ceasefire line as their own even if living under Pakistani occupation. In fact, the vast spectrum of public opinion in India nurtures no innate feeling of hostility towards the people of Pakistan. Let alone the Abdullahs, even the Hurriyat leaders like Syed Ahmad Shah Geelani travel on Indian passports even if some of them go on freewheeling trips to meet the Pakistani leaders in Lahore or Islamabad; but that does not necessarily make them anti-India. Geelani has at times resented being called a separatist leader though he has himself to be blamed for being described so. This is what makes India different from its neighbor as an established democracy. As such, it is difficult to understand the BJP logic in accusing Omar Abdullah of having different yardsticks in judging Pakistan and China. No surprise if such irresponsibility hurts the sensitivities in Kashmir. The BJP really protests too much about its monopoly of patriotism. It all sounds at once both ludicrous and pathetic on the very face of it. How to explain this kind of mindset�does it arise from some kind of patriotism-deficit as a hangover of the past? Presently, lack of proper leadership is the bane of the BJP. Its earlier avatar was the Praja Parishad in Jammu and Kashmir, and even as the Jan Sangh they began well there having a leader like Prem Nath Dogra who was a man of the masses. Yet, the party could not sustain itself on its past legacy and the result is there for all to see� its political failure to emerge as a credible alternative in the State, its hold having remained confined to the Jammu region only. They have hardly any leader of note who is known outside the region. Despite protestations on its part, the BJP has not been able to get over its image of being a party which is monolithic and anti-minorities� notwithstanding the fig-leaf of the NDA. Amidst the coming polls and in the broader spectrum of the Lok Sabha elections next year the party has rather prematurely started seeing itself as next in the line to power. This is an albatross around its neck which makes it difficult to see it in the role of credible alternative to the Congress� however battered its own image may be in the wake of the charges of corruption and the whole clutch of scams sullying it. Is it a surprise, then, if the question of the possibility of a third alternative keeps cropping up, time and again, in the present situation?