BJP and the art of the impossible


Soon after taking charge as Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, apart from making the contemptible remarks that Pakistan and jihadists allowed peaceful polls in the state, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed talked about politics as “the art of the possible.” He wrongly attributed the quote to his former boss and ex-prime minister V.P. Singh; it was Bismarck who had said that. The moot point, however, is that the Mufti’s ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is trying to pursue politics as the art of the impossible.

To begin with, we shall examine what the realm of possibility includes. Compromise is an important province of this realm. Compromise is when BJP leads an alliance that includes the party of the socialist Ram Vilas Paswan, when BJP-led coalition included the Lohiaites like Sharad Pawar and Nitish Kumar. About four decades ago, when various political groups decided to come under the umbrella of Jayaprakash Narayan, it was compromise. The BJP agreed to not raise the issues of Ram Temple, the Uniform Civil Code, and Article 370; its allies agreed to support the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Compromise means give-and-take. In the PDP’s scheme of things, however, it means we take and you give. So, it wants that its ally, the BJP, to discard its principles—Article 370 and the resettlement of Kashmiri Pundits being the most important ones. But the PDP will not give up its separatism; it will continue with its glorification of terrorists; it will not respect the sentiments of its partner and the people of India; it will not hurt the national interest.

This is the reason some of the PDP members are demanding that the remains of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged, be brought back to the Valley. “Our party has given a statement that the mortal remains of Afzal Guru should be brought back to the state. We stand firm on our demand,” Mohammad Khalil Band, the PDP’s MLA from Pulwama, told a news channel.

The PDP also wants New Delhi to initiate dialogue with Pakistan and the Hurriyat Conference. While the BJP has dissociated itself with the Mufti’s comment, the provocation from the PDP is ceaseless and relentless. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti has supported the statement made by her father and Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister. “I stand by the remarks made by Mufti Sahib. He is not a person who makes a remark and later denies having made it.”

BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would like to limit their association with the PDP to the Common Minimum Programme, but their ally is not helping their case; it continues to strain the ties and make the BJP’s position more and untenable. There is considerable consternation within the saffron party. This was the reason that Subramanian Swamy tweeted: “If PDP continues to speak outside Common Minimum Programme, [we] will have to remove Article 370. If PDP continues speaking this language, they are only harming themselves.”

I doubt that the BJP leadership, infected with the continuity virus as it is, would do any such thing; at the most, it would break ties with the PDP. It is a catch-22 situation for the saffron party: it breaks the alliance, it would be a big affront to its political acumen; if it doesn’t, its supporters would be further alienated. Many of them are already feeling betrayed. “People voted for the BJP because they thought they will have their own (Hindu) chief minister, but the party (BJP) has given up on all that it stood for,” Yaspal Sharma, a political activist who burnt BJP flags in Jammu told a media organization.

The fact is that the BJP—which has come to entertain some grand notions about its own political sagacity, thanks to the string of electoral successes till Delhi—has been trying the art of the impossible. Its leaders thought that the PDP would undergo a metamorphosis just because it joined hands with them, that its pro-Pakistan and pro-jihad sympathies would evaporate in no time, and that the saffron party could square the circle and bring the north and south poles together. But, unfortunately for the sages in the Sangh Parivar, metamorphosis in human affairs happens only in a Kafkasque world, evil cannot be wished away, and the facts of geometry and geography are immutable. Howsoever clever the RSS apparatchik Ram Madhav and BJP chief Amit Shah may be, they cannot do the impossible.

The BJP tried to do the impossible in J&K and failed miserably. One hopes that it learns a lesson from its own mistakes.