Statesmanship, not brinkmanship

The BJP must revisit the pages of Kashmir’s political history and avoid its maximalist approach for short-term gains It is a sign of how accustomed India has got to the perennial Kashmir crisis that the municipal elections held in Jammu and Kashmir recently, which saw near-zero voter turnout in the Valley, have generated such limited public discussion. Despite being local body polls, the negligible public participation in them is significant, especially since only four years ago, the State had witnessed the highest voter turnout in 27 years. Last week saw only 35.1% turnout for the entire State, with Kashmiri participation dropping to a low single-digit percentage. Some have blamed this result on pressure from militants. However, it is worth noting that although militants often try to violently disrupt State elections, the boycott has rarely been as successful as this time. We must recognise that this boycott was essentially a democratic expression of the people who are frustrated not just by the government but by the entire system. To ignore their voice is almost certainly going to lead to disastrous consequences for the State’s already-deteriorating security situation. Many have argued that the solution would have been to delay the elections. However, this would have also meant denying the people of Jammu their democratic rights as they did want the elections and have participated in them enthusiastically. The true solution of this problem lay in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tempering its political ambition. The resurgent Kashmir militancy was something that the Narendra Modi government inherited. However, instead of solely focussing on stabilising the situation, the BJP also tried to derive maximum political gains from the situation, using its typical take-no-prisoners style of politics. Within the State, it has pursued a blatantly-cynical and communally-coloured coalition politics; outside the State, it has led a campaign to end the “special status” of Jammu and Kashmir. Put together, this maximalist approach has dramatically destabilised the State’s politics, and thereby its security.

Source  : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/statesmanship-not-brinkmanship/article25267574.ece

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