After a long and arduous wait, the election results in J&K are finally out. Strange as it may sound, for a party that won the most assembly seats, the PDP is also found to be the biggest loser. Its dream of forming the state government, with or without outside support, looks like a sand castle facing an approaching tsunami. And, here’s why.
PDP’s initial euphoria of bagging the largest number of the assembly seats was soon overcome by an ominous realization that, even if fully supported by the unencumbered independents, the party was still far off the mark to stake its claim on the privilege to forming the next government. As the leading party carrying the onus to “cobble up” an alliance, PDP is severely constrained by a mischievous distribution of seats among the parties. The numbers are tormenting its ability to choose an alliance partner at will. ‘Cobbling up,’ a term often used by the PDP in its quest for an enduring majority, won’t be easy. Any alliance would have to be not only credible but also durable enough to withstand the rigors of its ideological inconsonance with the rest of the nation.
Congress party possesses the right credentials and would be the PDP's natural choice for several reasons. First, Mufti Sahib knows the Congress party well in one of his previous roles he did serve its interests in the state. Secondly, he may find comfort in the consistency with which the Congress party has proven its affinity for safeguarding the Muslim interests, inexplicably to the exclusion of all others’. In PDP’s calculus, the Congress party mortally bruised by poll reverses all across the nation and perhaps on the verge of being relegated to oblivion in the coming years would be an asset for its willingness to please and stay compliant of the PDP’s dictates. Regrettably, Congress’ numbers don’t add up.
Willfully or unmindful of the futility of its offer, the Congress party did reach out. But the olive branch it held out to the PDP was too short it failed to reach the intended audience. Politics is a numbers game and to cobble up a montage, the PDP will have to either get into bed with one or more of its sworn political adversaries or else, in addition to the Congress', earn the support of at least four independents a number that’s woefully outside the PDP’s reach.
If an understanding with the National Conference, though nearly impossible, were to materialize, the alliance will stand testimony to the old adage, “In politics, there are no permanent enemies.” Two regional parties, drawing support primarily from the common pool of the state’s Muslim majority, the PDP and NC are perpetually locked in a mortal combat. If political expediency does bring them together, the arrangement will also bring along several side-effects. The Jammu region will technically lose its representation in the state government and the move will serve as validation of the polarization both parties are accused of creating between the Muslim majority in the valley and the non-Muslim minority spread across the state.
Amit Shah is no pushover who will allow the PDP to flex its muscles without the BJP’s connivance. The PDP does need the BJP to realize its dream, but by espousing radical views of self-governance and open borders with Pakistan antithetical to the BJP’s vision for the nation the alliance will only serve as the PDP’s death knell. As a national party, the BJP has far bigger plans for the state and they don’t include the PDP or its anti-integration agenda.
The people of J&K have only witnessed decades of unabated violence emanating from across the LoC, gradual radicalization of its impressionable minds, massive corruption that benefits a chosen few, and differential treatment that’s blatantly biased against the state's religious minorities.
With its historic mandate, the BJP has an unprecedented opportunity to showcase good governance. Dropping the PDP and the Congress parties from consideration as potential candidates for alliance, it’s the NC’s support and that of four independents backed by the two parties that will prove most malleable and least disruptive to the BJP’s agenda. If consummated, the alliance will represent the next best thing to a clear majority a distinct possibility during the next assembly elections in five years, on a timetable that, in due course, will correspond with the election schedule the rest of the Union follows.
Cobblers may know how to cobble and wobble. But, it’s the nationalists that build strong nations.