In the backdrop of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) grand ambition to conquer Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, albeit democratically, the ongoing elections to legislative assemblies of the erstwhile Princely State has assumed immense significance. Indeed, this election will not only be crucial for the future of this disputed territory but also the fate of hitherto unviolated superstructure of the Indian Republic. And this democratic universal suffrage is intricately linked to BJP’s mission “44-plus” by way of which Premier Narendra Modi and his mentors in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) seeks to control India’s only Muslim-majority state for the first time in history.
An electoral majority for BJP in Kashmir will also mean that the Hindutva ideologues have reached one more step closer to their long cherished goal of securing what is popularly referred to as “Akhand Bharat” — a unified India whose territories spread from the Hindu Kush Mountains to Burma’s far-eastern fringes. After all, Kashmir — as visualized by the Hindu nationalists — has always been one of the cornerstones of “Akhand Bharat” concept. “We should start thinking how to be Akhand Bharat once again,” asserted RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat not so long ago. In fact, the Hindu nationalists have always believed that South Asia was “one land — both by lineage and culture — from Kabul to Tibet to Sri Lanka.” This being the right time for Hindu resurgence, there is no reason why the pallbearers of Hindutva should not envision “bringing it back as one land” says Bhagwat.
Kashmir is one serious stumbling block that prevents the BJP from enforcing its vicious politico-religious agenda on the nation fully. Winning a majority there will help consolidate the new Hindu nationalist narrative of Muslims having accepted the Hindutva philosophy wholeheartedly. Accordingly, the BJP leadership, soaked in expansionist Hindutva ideology, has minced no words in declaring that the party will bring about “complete integration” of Kashmir with rest of India. With this precise objective in mind, the Hindutva ideologues are desperately trying to hoodwink the Kashmiri people. The BJP has gone to the town with the propaganda of extricating Kashmir’s lost “Kashmiriyat” (rich cultural tradition of peaceful coexistence) and merge it into the national mainstream once they are seated in power. Leaders of the saffron party believe that the time has ultimately arrived for the battered people of Kashmir to “get Indianized properly.” Not many are aware that there has been a flurry of discreet activities, initiated by Premier Modi’s advisers, vis-à-vis Kashmir, ever since the BJP’s electoral coup in the last general elections. This writer understands reliably that a close aide of a self-proclaimed ascetic — an influential member of Modi’s “Deep State” — carried a confidential message from India’s ruling dispensation to Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, seeking his active support in brokering a deal with Kashmiri separatists so that the BJP can find a firm footing in the province’s convoluted political space. Perhaps, Saeed’s reported shifting of base to Muzafarrabad in Azad Kashmir prior to elections points to a deeper understanding reached between the two sides.
Ideally, Saeed’s intervention in Jammu and Kashmir election process will supplement the methodically fanned sectarian rift over the years. Stoking the fire of intra-religion sectarian difference not only marginalizes the mainstream political forces but also help BJP electorally. And this produced schism (between traditional Kashmiri Sufism and conservatism) is being cleverly exploited by the Hindu nationalists to confuse the Muslim voters, much along the lines of BJP’s newfound electoral strategy. Amid this carefully orchestrated chaos, the mainstream political outfits including the ruling National Conference, are left stranded in the doldrums after having encouraged opportunistic politics for years. Besides, the strategic openings provided by the worst ever flood and Indian Army’s mysterious public confession of professional misconduct has given Premier Modi — a shrewd manipulator — the chance to manipulate the political situation by embarking on a “healing touch” propaganda.
Meanwhile, dissidents from mainstream regional parties have been roped in to help split the Muslim vote bank in the valley so that the BJP can accrue leverage. Unfortunately, an upright leader like Sajjad Lone has allowed himself to be courted (under tremendous duress as this writer learned from a credible source) thus confusing the Kashmiri electorate further. Does Lone, whose father was a victim of a false-flag operation, really believe that he has that ability to soften the communal character of BJP — almost akin to erasing the stripes of a Tiger? Is he aware that BJP’s softened stance on their pet yet controversial agendas like abrogation of Article 370 and continuation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act is only temporary? It has been decided in a secret huddle of top Hindutva ideologues that the BJP, if voted to power with a thumping majority, will not only bring a motion in Legislative Assembly to do away with the “special status” associated with Article 370, but also work toward trifurcating the province into three separate entities — the valley, Jammu and Ladakh. One wonder, whether all those Kashmiri politicians, who are waiting to be trapped voluntarily post-poll or covertly liaising with the BJP now, are in agreement with this objective of the saffron party? Most importantly, does India’s strategic security establishment really believe that this serves the best interest of the nation for which they have been shedding their precious blood and sweat? Above all, is it not time to restore the lost glory and self-esteem of Kashmiri people, of all faith, so that they no longer serve as conduits of various interest groups?