Modi’s J&K rhetoric meant for elections

Modi's itenary and tone shows he wants BJP to do well in the upcoming assembly elections

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. He once again concentrated on infrastructure, inaugurating a hydel power project and a transmission line. He was in the state in early July as well when he inaugurated the train link to Katra for the pilgrims to Vaishno Devi. Thus, the political dimension of Kashmir was given the go-by on both trips, although this was not the case when Mr Modi was in the state during his Lok Sabha election campaign when he invited attention to starting a debate on Article 370 of the Constitution through which J&K was historically linked to India. However, the Modi government continues to repeat words taken from former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee — that the Kashmir question would be looked at through the prism of “humanity” (insaniyat). The reiteration does not ring true. People in the Valley are not impressed. No one missed seeing in July that Mr Modi did not invite chief minister Omar Abdullah when he met the Army brass in Srinagar to review the security situation, although the CM, by virtue of his office, heads the Unified Command in the state.
Come to think of it, the PM’s concerns seem more mundane. His itinerary and the tone of his speeches in J&K suggest that he is keen that his party does well in the state Assembly election also (due in October), following on a good showing in the Lok Sabha poll when the BJP emerged with the highest percentage of votes in the state on the strength of a very good showing in Jammu and Ladakh. If the BJP’s score is once again good in these areas, it thinks it won’t have to bother about the Kashmir Valley, where the population is almost entirely Muslim, unlike Jammu and Ladakh. The development slant of the PM’s speeches also pertains to the latter regions. There is another pointer to his priorities as far as communal demographics goes. Mr Modi hinted at going the extra mile for displaced Kashmiri Pandits (who no doubt deserve all the help they can get), and those who had migrated to the Indian side in the past (almost all Hindu and Sikh). He did speak of helping families that were victims of terrorism. A large number in this category are Muslim. It is to be seen if the Centre’s munificence extends that far. From Kargil in Ladakh, the PM spoke of Pakistan-instigated terrorism. If this was apt, his observation that the neighbouring country was taking recourse to terrorism as it had lost the capacity for conventional war was best left to analysts and not ventilated at the highest executive level. There is a time and place for everything.

( Source : dc )
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