Role of New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir Politics
Context: Recent dissolution of Legislative Assembly of J&K
Mains Syllabus: Constitution and Polity
Centre-State Relation, with reference to Jammu and Kashmir – (GS Paper II)
Recently Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satya Pal Malik dissolve the Legislative Assembly immediately after rival parties staked claims to form a government.
Argument in support of the decision:
- The Governor’s reasons for dissolution was, that political parties with opposing ideologies should not come together, but such argument is baseless as seen in light of PDP and BJP coming together to form the Government then be levelled against the coming together of PDP-NC-Congress grouping.
- The PDP, the NC and the Congress share several common positions, including on confidence-building measures (CBMs), peace talks and safeguarding constitutional rights.
- More worrying still, what does Governor mean by the reference to security? Is he suggesting that a PDP-NC-Congress alliance would impact negatively on the “fragile situation” in the Valley? What possible grounds can there be for such an accusation, the purpose seem solely to tarnish?
Consequences of the Decision
- The greatest damage done by the Governor, has been to strengthen Kashmiri cynicism about New Delhi. Most Kashmiri commentators, in any case, argue that there has never been more than a pretence of democracy on the part of New Delhi when it comes to Kashmir. What happened recently vindicates their argument.
- Sadly, it also represents a return to the dark days of political meddling by the Centre in State politics, a practice that had been gradually relinquished between 2002 and 2014, a period which saw three of the freest and fairest elections in the State. Those years, of partial peace-building, have been forgotten in the Valley.
- The graph of violence has been rising since 2014 not only in the Valley, but in the border districts of Jammu as well. In this volatile situation, the impact of the events of the past six months, from the BJP toppling its coalition government with the PDP to the Governor thwarting the PDP-NC-Congress claim to form a government, has been highly unfortunate.
- By his actions, the governor has joined a line of Governors appointed by the Centre who have skated far too close to constitutional red lines, violating the propriety of their office. As numerous constitutional experts have pointed out, this is a fit case for the Supreme Court to overturn a Governor’s decision, but there are few Kashmiri parties which wish to go to court. The PC might have greatest reason, but it cannot go against the Governor. The NC, the PDP and the Congress all stand to gain from elections.
Time to build confidence
- Meantime, it is worth noting, a low-profile visit by former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, meeting Ali Shah Geelani, and has also travelled across the Line of Control (LoC) to meet local leaders there. Whether the Centeral government will accept inputs from him is unclear. What is clear is that Kashmiris continue to hold hope for the revival of peace initiatives, irrespective of
- The Kartarpur agreement has been widely welcomed by India-Pakistan experts, but the hope that peace initiatives on Kashmir will follow could be misplaced. The India-Pakistan peace process combined Punjab to Punjab and Sindh to Rajasthan connectivity with cross-LoC CBMs. Former Army chief General V.K. Singh, who is Minister of State for External Affairs, recently spoke of delinking the Kartarpur corridor from the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case. Why not consider Kashmir CBMs in the same spirit?
All the factual information — whether political, security, social or economic — shows that the Centeral government’s counterinsurgency-alone policy has gravely damaged the Valley as well Jammu and Kashmir’s relations to the Union. Will the Central government allow this downward spiral to continue through to the national elections next year, with increasing rhetoric on terrorism, anti-national elements and the like, or will it put the interests of the State and the Union first?