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Last Updated : Dec 23, 2014 10:33 PM IST | Source: Firstpost.com

J&K results 2014: BJP achieves Mission Kashmir

Most important, by bringing out the vote, it has legitimised this election for the whole world. No one can now say that the Kashmir vote was a non-vote, with very few people voting.


R Jagannathan
Firstpost.com


The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mission 44 in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has failed, but the party has established itself as a powerhouse in Jammu, relegating the Congress to fourth place. Mission 44 has enabled the success of Mission Kashmir with closer ties to Delhi.


The results and counting trends show that we are headed for a hung assembly in J&K, with the BJP and the PDP being the top two parties with 25 and 28 seats, and the National Conference (NC) and Congress being the runners up in the regional and national parties categories.

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This means that the only viable coalition will be one between Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP, which will comfortably pass the halfway mark of 44 in an 87-member assembly. A PDP-Congress coalition is only an outside possibility, given the numbers. With PDP's 28, Congress' 12 and independents, this coalition will be on life-support from Day One.


How did we get this kind of result even though the BJP has emerged as the single-largest party in terms of vote share, with a 23 percent vote share - a nose ahead of the 22.7 percent? NC and Congress come next with 20.8 percent and 18 percent.


Two reasons can be adduced for the failure of BJP’s Mission 44.


One, the BJP’s shock emergence as the biggest party in J&K during the Lok Sabha polls, and its expressly stated ambition of becoming a majority party in J&K with it Mission 44 gameplan (based on high turnouts in Jammu and low ones in the Kashmir Valley) put all it rivals on edge immediately. They worked hard to ensure that the mission is defeated by getting out the majority vote in the Kashmir valley. This is why we saw high turnouts in the Valley, despite muted calls for a boycott by the separatists. It is quite possible that the separatists held back their violence to enable the BJP to be stopped in its tracks.


Two, the National Conference-Congress break-up was critical to the blockade of the Modi wave in Jammu. By splitting up, the National Conference was able to concentrate its efforts in the Valley to stem the PDP’s surge, and the Congress was able to slow down the BJP in Jammu.


During the campaign, the BJP was accused of trying to be pro-Hindu in Jammu and “secular” in the Valley as it did not tom-tom its threat to abolish article 370 while campaigning in the Valley. This may have cost it the chance of an overwhelming victory in its Jammu base.


However, the results show that the National Conference and the Congress played the same card – of courting the Muslim vote in the valley (by NC) and the Hindu vote in Jammu by the Congress.


This divide-to-deny-victory to BJP strategy was what killed Mission 44.


But the BJP has gained by registering a significant vote share in the Kashmir Valley. It has also established itself as the state's No 2 party, which cannot be ignored in any coalition.


Most important, by bringing out the vote, it has legitimised this election for the whole world. No one can now say that the Kashmir vote was a non-vote, with very few people voting.


It is clear that a BJP-PDP coalition is the state’s best bet for a stable government as the parties comfortably cross the halfway mark.


This coalition would also have strong representation from both regions, the Kashmir Valley and Jammu, not to speak of Ladakh.


The betting should be on a PDP-BJP coalition as option 1.


The National Conference, of course, has no chance of forming a government, with or without Congress and independent support.


The BJP will be happy to join a J&K government. Not least because assemblies in J&K have a life of six years against the more normal five elsewhere.


This is what we should celebrate: by not achieving Mission 44, the BJP has effectively enabled a key role for itself in Kashmir. In short, Mission 44 was lost, but Mission Kashmir was accomplished.

The writer is editor-in-chief, digital and publishing, Network18 Group

First Published on Dec 23, 2014 10:33 pm
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