‘Prime Minister Modi is highly displeased with the leaders who sought organisational reshuffle in the state’.
With Jammu and Kashmir reaching the 5-year mark without any Assembly election, there has been a rise in speculation about the elections being held alongside or after Lok Sabha elections (to be held next year). However, sources have suggested that the ruling BJP at the Centre has initiated its outreach plan to court the largest regional party in Kashmir, the National Conference (NC), to be in the game in the Union Territory.
Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trusted aide in advisory circles is said to have reached out to Omar Abdullah and persuasively offered him to be part of the NDA to “figurehead the future government in the Union Territory with the support of the saffron camp”. A close observer of national politics claimed that if any such deal comes to fruition, it can only happen after the Assembly elections, where the BJP will support the NC, in case it falls short of a majority.
Talking to The Sunday Guardian, National Conference chief spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq denied the possibility of any kind of alliance with the BJP. He said, “The reason why we cannot go with the BJP is that what they did in 2019 (Abrogation of Article 370) was unconstitutional and undemocratic and it was without the consent of people of Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference believes it cannot go against the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Asked if the party chief Omar Abdullah has been approached by the BJP, he added, “There is nothing like that; how can we be with the same political party that we are fighting against in the Supreme Court. It is something that is not possible at all. It is not like on the one hand, we are fighting against them and on the hand, we will form an alliance with them. So, whoever is spreading such stories is living in a fool’s paradise.”
A political observer in the state said, “The NC is in a solid position when it comes to Assembly elections. It has the ability to win an overwhelming majority in the valley where all other parties are unlikely to cross double digits. And in Jammu, the BJP is expecting to dominate. So, the calculations by the ruling party at the Centre is to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir with a party which they can control. NC fits well in that due to its chieftains being under the scanner of central agencies.”
Senior leaders in the broad-based Congress-led alliance suggest that the BJP has identified the parties across the country they can target for their alleged past irregularities and thereby use those irregularities as pressure tactics to bring them into the NDA. The whole game plan is seen to be the counter politics against the formation of the I.N.D.I.A bloc which took off after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had postulated for a bigger anti-BJP camp.
However, Kashmir-based political analysts do not think that the NC would want to join the saffron camp. A political analyst based in Kashmir said, “A very vivid example of downfall of a party in the political arena can be seen in PDP. They collapsed like a house of cards. Their prominent leaders left them, their cadre went scattered, and they lost a huge chunk of the electorate. So why would they risk their future for some years of power? But it is true that pressure from the saffron camp could change the dynamics in NC. Moreover, the party cannot show open defiance. It could be a balancing act.”