By Haider Abbas
There have been neck-to-neck three interviews on The Wire, conducted by Karan Thapar, which are politically volatile enough to stir the debate inside the nation. First came on April 14 with Ex. Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, later by Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency Chief AS Dulat on April 24, and last by Sajjad Lone-the Chairman of People’s Conference of Kashmir on April 30. Satya Pal Malik spilled his grouse against PM Narendra Modi, after the latter had reduced his security to a ‘constable’ and made him live in a two-room rented house. He has not as left BJP and still wants to rescue PM Modi to ‘leave’ Gautam Adani and reclaim the mandate in 2024. On the same lines he made PM Modi to withdraw the three anti-farmer laws, which led to BJP win again in UP-2022, on the high crest of overwhelming BJP affiliated media support.
The interview with AS Dulat, during which the former intelligence chief, spoke mostly on the recent Poonch attack as five-Jawans on April 20, were killed in it. He found it as ‘scary’ and due to ‘army having left the guard down’. He spoke in absolute calm, delectable English and emphasized the urgent need to start the political process ‘at the earliest’ but which all yet to kick-start. He referred to the two dominant players ‘Abdullahs and Muftis’ and other regional mainstream parties to have stitched a Gupkar group, under the guiding figure of Farooq Abdullah, but which, is also likely to fall apart before the elections. He wanted Gupkar to be engaged or else Jamaatis, probably from the banned Jamaat-e-Islami of Kashmir, will gain ground, as the narrative that Sheikh Abdullah ‘made-a-blunder’ by not taking the call for Pakistan in 1947, is to gain currency. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chief is Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference (NC) is run by Farooq Abdullah and the third main contender is Congress.
AS Dulat also carefully sought that a stable Pakistan is what India needs or else it would be mayhem in Kashmir. He this time, very carefully charted paeans for NSA Ajit Doval, as someone who has a ‘solution’ in Kashmir, but is bogged in-between PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. He clearly through the ‘talk’ wanted to mend his last stringent views on Ajit Doval on aired The Wire, on December 20, 2022, in which he had generalized Ajit Doval to be ‘ambitious’ a La Julius Caesar lines! It would also be worth referring that he had in 2019 called ‘Pulawana attack’ in which 40 Jawans were killed, as to have been a ‘gift-to-BJP’ and which turned out to be!
The next in the line was Sajjad Lone, the son of the separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone, who was ‘high-on-adrenaline’. He even once admonished the interviewer over his ‘research’. His main forte was to place ‘himself’ to have been mainstreamed in Kashmir politics, against the oldest cog Farooq Abdullah, who is always in contact with BJP. However, he dismissed the possibility of him, going ahead and forging a post-election alliance government with BJP. His party has parted from Gupkar. He vented his anger against AS Dulat, who was the Kashmir Information Bureau In-charge in 1987, and now ‘has-the-audacity’ to be a ‘Kashmir expert’, as it was then when the elections were rigged, which triggered in the popular anger and the ensuing militancy in Kashmir, and which has found , thousands in jails and a lakh people in the graves.
Sajjad Lone proved to be ‘too naïve’ to seek for the restoration of Article 370, merely by ‘saying-it’, as Article 370 ‘in place again’ is akin to the promise of the then sitting PM of India Narsimha Rao, on December 6, 1992, that Babri Masjid would be rebuilt, again on the site it existed, before it was demolished. After thirty years, the site of the Babri Masjid, has been given to the Hindu side, by the Apex Court of the nation. All the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case have been acquitted. The case of Muslims has always been a ‘case of a loss’, without also the undeniable fact, that no sooner Congress government facilitated the opening of Babri Masjid locks, on February 1, 1986, it had triggered communal riots all across the nation. There were as many as 118 Muslims killed, within two days, in May 1987 in Hashimpura and Maliana in Meerut alone! All those accused in the massacre, including the policemen involved, have been set free.
Babri Masjid case and the withdrawal of Article 370 had been entwined with a common thread. They both had existed on BJP agenda since four-decades, and hence, BJP took to commemorate the foundation laying-ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, where Babri Masjid had once stood, on August 5, 2020. The same day when Article 370 was demolished too! It is also ironic that BJP chose December 6, to demolish Babri Masjid, as it is also the death anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar, the precursor of Constitution of India and one of the tallest Dalit icons in the country. Anyone from Kashmir wishing still for a comeback of Article 370 is certainly to hazard into a fool’s paradise.
How the elections would fare in J&K would depend on the verdict of Karnataka. If BJP wins or loses, it will have a fallout in J&K. The stakes are well loaded in favour of BJP. There are 43 seats in Jammu (read Hindu dominated), which is to nearly break the back of monopoly of Muslim dominated Kashmir valley which has 47-out of the total 90 seats. It can be anyone’s guess that Jammu will make a clean sweep for BJP while there would a split mandate in the valley, between Muftis, Abdullah or Lone’s party or Congress, hence, BJP would stake claim for the formation of government, which will get the support from any party available with the numbers in valley. This is what Sajjad Lone has already suggested!
Therefore, it would see the first ever Hindu CM from J&K, and this is what BJP would claim to be the most ‘treasured trophy’, towards 2024. The political calculus is now very simple to envisage!
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on politics.