Finally, after a lot of sophistry, equivocation, and mendacity, and after receiving a great deal of flak from all sections, the Bharatiya Janata Party has shown some spine; it insisted on the arrest of Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam, and ensured that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed threw the notorious separatist behind bars.
Placed under house arrest on Thursday evening, Alam was arrested and taken to the Shaheed Gunj police station. Also booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are fellow Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Pir Saiffulah. They have been charged with raising pro-Pakistan slogans and waving Pakistan’s flag at a rally on Wednesday.
“The media wanted Alam to be arrested and the BJP sternly told Mufti Sayeed that they wanted him arrested, and the state government instructed us to arrest him,” The Hindu quoted a senior police official in its report. We hope that the report is accurate, for it is indeed heartening to know that the saffron party is capable of sternness in dealing with people whose sympathies are with our enemies.
So far, the BJP has only shown pusillanimity and submissive attitude in its dealing with PDP. The party which for decades advocated a muscular approach to resolve the Kashmir issue, after forming a government with the Mufti, suddenly lost its bombast and bluster; it started parroting the views of the fashionable liberals that infest Lutyens’ Delhi and dominate Kashmir policy. Gone were the demand for the repeal of Article 370, the nationalist rhetoric, and self-righteousness. The BJP’s justification for its capitulation stands on three pillars—all of them being rickety.
First, BJP leaders untiringly claim that they want to bring good governance and development to Jammu & Kashmir. The assertion would have sounded convincing had the Narendra Modi regime had brought a sea change in statecraft and unleashed a slew economic reforms. Unfortunately, the Central government remains focused on incremental change; emphasis is on continuity with minor, often insignificant, alterations in policy, whereas its mandate was for change.
So, unsurprisingly, nobody, save diehard Modi fans, is satisfied with the performance of the government in the last 11 months. Businessmen are unhappy because many of the irritants of the past like retrospective taxation still haunt them. Votaries of civil liberties and freedom of expression are miffed because of, among other things, the BJP government’s shameful U-turn on Section 66A. Middle India is dissatisfied because little has been done to reduce the burden of personal income tax. People at large are disappointed because they haven’t witnessed the achhe din that they were promised—not even the dawn of a single good day. Whatever little good has occurred, like the dip in the prices of petrol and diesel, is because of events with which the BJP has had nothing to do. The ruling party did try to take credit for cheaper petroleum products but failed—evident from its shattering defeat in the Delhi Assembly polls.
This is not to say that the Modi government has been a disaster or even a big disappointment, but it surely has not lived up to the expectations. Therefore, its claims to usher in an era of prosperity and happiness in the trouble-torn state sound hollow.
The second pillar is hollow as the first one. BJP spokespersons claim that they need time to set things right in J&K. Yes, the PDP-BJP alliance needs time, but time should be spent in planning moves to improve governance and economic development, not in placating separatists and releasing jihadists. But this is exactly what the Mufti is keen on, as the BJP plays the helpless spectator. The BJP putting its foot down and getting Masarat arrested is scarcely its assertion, for one swallow doesn’t make a summer.
The third pillar is not the ricketiest but also the ugliest of the three: the Congress, right from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, and other parties messed up in the Valley for over six decades, so it’s okay if we make a few mistakes. Of course, BJP leaders don’t use these words but the import of their statements is that only. But the point is that the people of India did not repose faith in Modi and his acolytes to make mistakes, big or small, but to rectify the ones made in the past.
The Prime Minister and others in the government should acknowledge the fact that it was wrong to join hands with the PDP whose sympathies lies with separatists. I wrote on March 8 (http://jagohindu.in/article-details.aspx?id=92) that the BJP “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.”
In short, instead of striving to concoct fallacious arguments to justify an impossible alliance, the saffron party should bid adieu to the Mufti and his party.