Saner Options Must be Explored
What is certain from the poll outcome in Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir is that while the BJP’s march has been slowed down, the Congress Party has suffered further decline and defeat and is fast yielding its place to other parties.
Jammu & Kashmir has thrown up interesting possibilities. While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has emerged as the largest group in the 87-member house, the BJP’s performance is no less shining going by its appeal being confined to the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. Though in terms of seats the National Conference has lost heavily (i.e., 15), its hold on the Valley does not show much of slackening in terms of popular votes (20.8% now from 23% in 2008).
Even while the negotiations are on to cobble a coalition government in the State, the possibility of PDP-BJP alliance do not seem bright even though such a coalition will be the best option for the State in order to heal the regional and communal cleavage caused by the polls. It will not augur well if the BJP is kept out of the Government in any manner, having polled more votes than the PDP i.e., 23.1% against PDP’s 22.7%. But as of now, the PDP and the BJP do not see eye to on several issues, notable among them being the article 370 of the Constitution that provides legitimacy to the accession of the State to the Union, given the special circumstances under which it was achieved. A BJP in Government will be more amenable to seeing the rationale of not upping the ante over the contentious issues than while being kept outside. Even otherwise, the BJP as the ruling party at the Centre has almost reconciled to the continuance of 370, but would not like to commit publicly on shedding its reservations as a political party. One hopes, saner counsels prevail on either sides for the two parties to sink their differences and work for a stable government in the sensitive State.
As for Jharkhand, the BJP has though slid down in terms of popular votes if compared to its performance in the General Election held earlier this year, the party can comfortably rule the state for the next five years. The Opposition is too splintered to pose any challenge to the stable government.
In both states, the Congress seems to be on irreversible decline. It is fast fading off the national political firmament, if not imagination. It does not augur well for the nation, for Congress by its political culture represents the essence of India. It is time, the Party pulled up its socks and rejuvenated its rank and file, choosing potent issues.