The central leadership of the BJP is working at “different levels and with different plans” to deal with politicians in Kashmir and create an atmosphere for normal politics to restart in Kashmir. Even as the delimitation commission has started its work, the J&K Apni Party has demanded early elections and has been pressing only for statehood and not for the restoration of Article 370.
Informed sources said that BJP general secretary Ram Madhav has come to get direct feedback not only from party cadres, but also from those politicians who are regarded close to BJP leadership. During his earlier visit, Ram Madhav had said that they will allow regional parties in Kashmir to carry on their normal activities and only work for the restoration of statehood. Ram Madhav said that if they start talking about restoration of special status, it will encourage separatism in Kashmir.
At this juncture, the BJP is propping new political forces like J&K Apni Party as a bulwark against all those mainstream political parties who are now for the restoration of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. According to reports, the BJP has been working on different plans at different levels to deal with the situation and get the political process back on track. Since 5 August last year, most political activities have remained suspended, as all mainstream leaders, except from BJP, were either detained or kept under house arrest.
Sources close to BJP circles told this newspaper that they were trying to keep in loop all the political parties in Kashmir, including PDP. They claimed that the Central government was even in touch with detained former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, though her daughter has said that her mother will not blink first.
The Centre is trying to “bring around” the Abdullahs to contest polls and promise people to fight for the restoration of Article 370, and statehood later on. But it seems that this line is not working right now as the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Conference, ANC and the CPIM have announced a joint political battle for the restoration of Article 370 and 35A; the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and its statehood. The leaders of these mainstream political parties had signed the Gupkar declaration last year on 4 August, a day before Article 370 was revoked by Parliament and the erstwhile state was divided into two Union Territories. On 22 August, these six parties in a joint statement said that they will fight for the restoration of the constitutional position of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed before 5 August 2019.
These parties in a statement have rejected the Centre’s moves and have described the changes as, “spitefully short-sighted and grossly unconstitutional”. Their fresh statement to start a movement has rattled the BJP cadre in Jammu and Kashmir and during their feedback to Ram Madhav, some of them have suggested that all these leaders should be jailed again so that the young leadership can take over Kashmir politics.
The recently floated Apni Party, which is widely believed to be close to the Centre, held meetings and said that the Gupkar declaration was yet another “political trick” by the Abudullahs and Muftis “to befool people and take them up the garden path”. They dared these parties to bring back the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and assured the public that they will shut their political shop.
The latest visit of Ram Madhav to the Kashmir valley has a context, that the Central leadership of the BJP is keen to finally prop up one political party or several of them if they fall in line for the demand of statehood alone and delink themselves from the restoration of Article 370.
Ram Madhav has also been working on the ground to nurture a new leadership of educated youth as many of them have joined BJP and pull them out from the ground to the top.