Bharatiya Janata Party in self-destruction mode
M. M Khajooria
Jammu, the core constituency of BJP in Jammu and Kashmir State which only recently massively voted for it was in revolt. The winter capital observed second anti- BJP total shut down on 27th May to protest against the “BJP betrayal” on the issue of AIIMS which Finance Minister Jaitley in his last budget speech in the Lok Sabha categorically and unambiguously announced in favour of Jammu. The Jammu and Kashmir government in which BJP, whose entire lot of MLAs was elected from Jammu, shocked and angered the people of Jammu by being a some what “enthusiastic collaborator” to the PDP decision to relocate the AIIMS in Kashmir. This upturned the Central Governments’ commitment for Jammu made in the Lok Sabha, to which subsequent developments evidenced Modi Government was complicit. The earlier Jammu Bandh on the very same issue was observed on 24th of April. The May Bandh had enormous significance. It was an open snub to Home Minister Raj Nath Singh who arrived in Jammu for the first time after assuming office to be greeted by shops with shutters down and deserted Bazaars and roads. In fact, he was due to address a “huge rally” in connection with observance of Modi government completing one year in office. The plan for the rally had to be abandoned due to lack of public response and the Bandh called by all political, commercial and social organizations under the banner of Bar Association of Jammu. An indoor meeting with citizens was instead decided to be held in Jammu University Zorawar Singh Auditorium. As even this could not be managed the party had to make do with a ‘get -together” in a Banquat Hall on the outskirts of Jammu city. To many the Bandh was reminiscent of the Bandhs observed in Srinagar on the visits of Prime Ministers. A pro-Azai Kashmiri friend made an interesting comment. ” Good” he said “So you have also realised these jokers from Delhi are no body’s friends”.
Why was the ruling party in Delhi proving so utterly inept and insensitive in dealing with an issue which not only hurt the sentiments of the people, shattered their faith so stoutly expressed in 2014 elections to the Lok Sabha and Jammu and Kashmir legislative Assembly? Did it not occur to any one in the government and the party hierarchy that AIIMS location issue touched the most sensitive area of health care, facilities whereof were woefully inadequate in Jammu region? The facility was critical for men. Women and children of this generation as also for those to come. It was height of naivety and callousness to cheat Jammu of the AIIMs of this critical facility and expect the people to keep quite. Like all warriors, people of the Dogra land talk less but when provoked react firmly and decisively. Let those in helms of affairs in Delhi and Srinagar be warned.
As far as Kashmir was concerned sanction of an AIIMS there also – as a special gesture if made in good grace would have created an enormous fund of goodwill amongst the people without causing any distress to people of Jammu, which incidentally was its one and only one constituency in the State. One does not have to be clairvoyant to recognise that such an arrangement would have been politically productive and help strengthen emotional bonds with New Delhi. The short sighted policy of pitching peoples of one region against the other, on the other hand was bound to boom rang. Surely, the Government of India would not go bankrupt by sanctioning an AIIMS for Kashmir without disturbing the arrangements already approved for Jammu. In any case Jammu Kashmir enjoyed a special status and its treatment as such in this context would create no problem elsewhere. As it is, we already have two Central Universities, one in Jammu and the other in Kashmir.
I do not really know what to make of the astounding solution of the tangle offered by BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi at Jammu on 25th May. “Now what I personally suggest” she stated ” is the AIIMS should come somewhere at the centre of Jammu and Kashmir, the place which is accessible and acceptable to all the three regions of the State ( including Ladakh.” How simple? Why did not this occur to us dumb people of the backward state of Jammu and Kashmir?, May, I make bold to suggest that she take some time off from her busy schedule and acquaint herself with the topography of this State. This may prove rewarding and produce required enlightenment.
The mishandling of the issue had not only brought discredit to the local BJP leadership but also, to put it mildly substantially hurt the image and popularity of Prime Minister Modi who publically undertook to personally secure and promote their interests in all spheres- Municipal bodies( as a Corporate), State Assembly ( as an MLA) and at the national level( as their MP). But the bigger sufferer was Dr. Jatinder Singh, a member of the LoK Sabha from Doda-Kathua Constituency handpicked by him as MoS in his office who had proudly narrated in a public meeting in Kathua his own role in having the AIMS sanctioned for Jammu for which he had personally thanked Finance Minister Jaitley? Coming down heavily on those “deliberately sending contradictory signals’ on the issue.” He declared “It is ironic” that “the present government in Jammu and Kashmir takes pride in owning the IIT for Jammu which was sanctioned six months before the birth of this Coalition Government but refuses to own the AIIMS which was sanctioned just 24 hours before its birth with the presentation of Union Budget on 28th February and swearing in of this government on Ist March”. Contrast this with “PMO’s message” reportedly delivered by him in a function in rural Jammu on 24th of May, 2015. The press report said “Prime Ministers’ Office asked the people of Jammu province to behave and not rake up any Jammu -specific issues as the todays’ BJP is not only a reformed BJP but also a party that is part of the J and K Government” the message was as unambiguous as it was a sort of warning that New Delhi under the New Dispensation will not appreciate any demand that is considered by the Kashmir leadership as anti-Kashmir or parochial”. Don’t’ miss the emphasis on words “Considered by Kashmir leadership”.
(To be continued)