Prime Minister Modi addressed the nation on abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir on 8th August at 8 pm. He made a passionate speech about why Article 370 was removed and how it had not accrued any benefit to the people of the state. Special status encouraged Atankwad (terrorism), Algavwad (separatism) and Parivarwad (dynastic rule) he added. Modi sought the support of people of the state to usher in a new era of development.

While Modi’s address was to the nation his focus was on the Kashmiri on the ground. He went about providing a roadmap for the improvement of the present and the future of awam of the state without chest thumping and playing to the gallery.

Even in Kashmir there were three target audiences – (1) people from the Valley, (2) Jammu and (3) Ladakh. To the people of the valley his message was that development has taken a back seat because of Article 370 and its removal will lead to better integration with rest of the country.

“1.5 crore people of J&K did not benefit from laws drafted for the entire nation. Children didn’t get the Right to Education. The girl child in J&K was deprived of rights. Dalits and minorities didn’t benefit from laws meant to protect them. People didn’t get benefit from reservations.”

To the people of Ladakh and Jammu the message was that they have faced discrimination and Article 370 lead to imbalance in development in the region. Union Territory (UT) status will correct this and will end the step brotherly treatment.

Three things clearly stand out from his speech:

  1. ”While removing Article 370, the decision to place J&K under direct central rule for some time has been taken with a lot of thought.”

The action of making the state a UT is temporary. J&K will return to statehood once normalcy is restored. Ladakh, though, will continue to be a UT. In effect, the temporary Article 370 was abrogated and a temporary UT status has been provided.

 

  1. “Under Governor’s Rule, the schemes that were earlier on paper are being implemented on the ground”.

Good governance and all-round development of the state has taken place in the state as administration is under central government. Schemes are implemented in a better way and local corruption is reduced.

 

  1. “Your representatives will be elected by you, from among you. You will continue to have MLAs, a cabinet and a Chief Minister.”

Things remain the same for the people, nothing much changes. Their democratic rights are intact. Free and fair elections will be held soon.

The tried and tested model no. 1: vikas, vikas and sirfvikas

Modi exhorted the youth of Kashmir to join him in the making of a New India. Only a handful of people in Kashmir are trouble makers while majority wants peace in the valley. His focus was on wooing the Kashmiri youth and make him / her join the mainstream. The aspirational youth who want better jobs, better infrastructure and better lifestyle were clearly on his mind.

In Lok Sabha elections 2014 and 2019, we have seen that a large section of youth, cutting across caste and class lines voted for BJP and Modi in the name of development. Modi’s attempt is to sell the same vikas story in J&K which has worked well like in other states.

The tried and tested model no. 2: dynasty in politics threat to democracy

He blamed pariwarwadfor the current position of Kashmir attacking the Abdullahs and Muftis of promoting their own agenda all these years. Modi’s tirade against dynasty particularly the Gandhi family and regional parties (fiefdoms) has worked well with the masses and handed electoral dividends to the party. The attempt is to replicate the same strategy in Kashmir.

“Decades of dynastic rule have deprived youth in J&K of leadership opportunities.”Modi and BJP hope this new process will create new leadership in the valley. The party hopes to attract people in the valley into the party fold especially the youth. BJP realizes that without support from valley it is difficult to restore peace in the valley. To note, it enjoys good hold over the Jammu region.

The political goal

BJP cannot implement central schemes with success without installing its own government in the state. It cannot run the state through Lieutenant Governor for a long time as this could lead to disenchantment. It had formed an alliance government with PDP which unsuccessfully lasted for just three years. NCP, PDP, Congress and parties of the valley are opposed to the bifurcation and lifting of special status. There is a threat of them joining forces.

If opposition is able to form government in the state then it will be back to square one for BJP. Muftis and Abdullahs are not likely to co—operate and there could be constant tussle between state and central government, like in Delhi, hampering its progress.

That is why (i) the process of de-limitation which is likely to increase seats of Jammu is being discussed parallelly and (2) Modi made a clarion call to the youth to create new leadership and partner with centre to restore its old glory. Modi realizes that first of all he needs to win the hearts of people.

Conclusion

Nobody has a crystal ball to see how this bold and historic step will unfold in the future. It’s a new beginning and a new approach to tackle the problem in Kashmir. India has clearly announced that Kashmir is an internal matter. Handful people backed by Pakistan fighting for azadi should forget about it.

India has assured local people that it will usher in a new era of growth and called them to shun separatist forces. It has promised that it will handle Pakistan and people need not fear. Now it’s upto the people of the state to warm up to this reality for development and peace. India also needs to fulfil promises. A test of our delivery mechanism begins!

Image courtesy: moneycontrol

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