PERFUME OF IDEAS
Since Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional membership in the Indian Union, Jammu Province has been the hub of political activity representing the spirit of nationalism. As well as being the epicenter of national movements in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it has assumed the status of refuge for all kinds of nationalists throughout the state (now a Union territory). It is to Jammu’s credit that he has not allowed split-off tendencies to grow on his knees for all of those seven decades despite political discrimination and prejudice against the province.
The province of Jammu is a vast territory comprising mountains and hills, rivers and lakes, plains and expanses of sand engulfing an area of approximately 26,000 km² (8 times the state of Goa). It is a land of Shiv and Shakti while Mata Vaishno Devi is its main deity attracting millions of people throughout the year from all over the world. He has two ancient scriptures to his credit, Vasuki-Puran and Vishnudharmuttar-Puran. The beautiful rivers Chandra and Bhaga converge as Chandra-bhagha in his district of Kishtwar, which then take the form of Chenab beyond the remote areas of Kishtwar and flow through the province roaring with gushing waters. Tawi from Ramnagar trails through the main city of Jammu to its western borders is recognized as the daughter of the sun god and so reverently called the “Suryaputri”.
Immediately after Raja Ranjit Dev in the 18th century, the principality of Jammu began to expand and Maharaja Gulab Singh proved to be a great hero of the land to establish his empire beyond its traditional limits, during the early and second quarters of the 19th century. He did so with the help of the brave General Zorawar Singh and his cavalry forces. The consolidation of the Dogra Empire was so mature and strong that Maharaja Hari Singh at the Round Table Conference in London in 1930 unambiguously challenged the British government in their country when he pleaded for the release of India under the British yoke. With this was founded the politics of national spirit in Jammu province in the modern context and national movements started to gain ground here.
During the partition of the state due to the tribal raid in 1947, at the initiative of the Pakistani regular army, the two valiant soldiers from Jammu province, Brig. Rajinder Singh and Brigadier. Usman, the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu mainland were saved. There are great stories of soldiers and ordinary men and women who fought their battles in 1947 against the North West Frontier Tribal Troops and the Pakistani Army.
The famous ‘Praja Parishad’ movement initiated by the legendary figure, Pt. Premnath Dogra, during the period 1951-1953, was based on the nationalist ethic summarized as “Ek Nishan-Ek Vidhan-Ek Pradhan “. It was purely a struggle to fully integrate into the Union of India in all areas. Hundreds of people were jailed during the statewide unrest by the then state government, and thousands joined its ranks to continue the cause. A number of agitators lost their lives as a result of police fire and lathi charges during the unrest. In fact, this movement gave Jammu an identity that gave it national recognition. This movement was later affiliated with the plan of Jan Sangh leader Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to break the law on permits for foreigners at the Lakhanpur border, which resulted in his arrest and mysterious death in the valley. of Kashmir.
During the wars of 1965, 1971 and 1999, Jammu played a central role in expanding support for the Indian military by organizing numerous volunteer programs throughout the province. Even during the emergency period of 1975-77, people came forward and fought to protect democracy and oppose the black chapter of the emergency. People filled the prisons, some lost their carriers while countless men and women participated in the struggle under the banner of Lok Sangarsh Samiti with the leadership of JP, the Lok-Nayaks.
Amarnath land of turmoil of 2008 with the mixture of national aspirations, Jammu has stood up like a rock against the government’s misguided decision. All shades of communities and opinions in Jammu Province participated in the massive unrest which lasted for three months. Various communities living in Jammu, namely Dogras, Pandits of Kashmir, Sikhs, Gujjars and people from the displaced communities of 1947 came under the strong banner of the land unrest and brought Jammu to the world for the first time. times in the right perspective with the right policies. story. Regional aspirations were well espoused during the turmoil, but they have always been at the service of the national cause.
Politically speaking, the province of Jammu voted in favor of Congress, a national political party, as early as the early 1960s. It did not choose any regional party but always preferred the national alternative. Regional groups, on the whole, were not taken seriously by the people of the province. This is why the Panthers Party, Jammu State Morcha and Dogra Swabhiman Party, etc. could not have had a formidable impact on the psyche of the Jammuites. In its maximum form, the Panthers Party won 5 legislatures, once, in the Assembly in 2002. However, people have always preferred to vote for a national alternative. Whenever necessary, in the absence of the Congress Party, all of Jammu has come out in favor of the BJP, again a national alternative. All regional permutations and combinations have failed in Jammu province miserably, unlike in the Kashmir valley and / or in the Ladakh division.
Politics in the Kashmir Valley was / is sadly determined by a flavor of regional identity, religious connotation, secessionist motivation and soft separatism. The masterstroke of August 5 and 6, 2019 by the government and parliament broke the backbone of this particular political flavor in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and in particular in the Kashmir valley. All the regional political groups in the Kashmir Valley like the National Conference, the PDP and others are guided by the same political flavor which has lost its political relevance, electorally speaking. Their leaders in Jammu province have also started to make a mental churn in the current context since they find themselves at a loss in these political parties. Therefore, the silent exodus of these parties in Jammu Province is a natural result.
Usually, leaders and ordinary people are drawn to a political party for the following two reasons. One is the ideology of the political party and the second is the chance to gain political power due to party membership. In the post-August-2019 scenario, the political ideology of the NC, PDP and other Kashmir-centered political parties suffered a major setback. On the one hand, their ideologies within J&K have become practically redundant and, on the other hand, their reputation as strong political groups to win elections in the future has been terribly shaken. It is only natural that the leaders and other prominent members of these Kashmir-centric political parties, especially in the Jammu region, are agitated on a daily basis. They visualize a future void in these parties and therefore opted for alternatives.
In a situation where the BJP has represented national and local aspirations in Jammu, traditionally, with a better, rather superior, support base, leaders and commoners will flock to it as a strong national alternative. Narendra Modi, as the greatest leader of the party, had a great impact and also captured the imagination of the people. It should be mentioned here that the BJP got 46% of the vote and above in Lok Sabha’s last election to J&K, which is equivalent to the national average obtained by the NDA. However, it will increase further with each passing day.
Frankly, the regional groups in the Jammu region have lost ground very heavily and it would be wise for them to continue their cause under a national banner with two main alternatives, namely the BJP and Congress. Rest is simply a waste of time, energy and resources. Those of the leaders who have already moved on to Jammu’s most promising national alternative, the BJP, have stepped forward for others to follow.
Politics waits for no one and flows like a river. It is very encouraging to note that Jammu Province has established itself as an active and living epicenter of J&K national aspirations and now is the right time to carry the message again to all corners of the Union territory. The Kashmir Valley invites all these leaders to make an impact on the good and well-being of the people and the nation.
(The author is a senior BJP and KP official and responsible, Deptt of Political Feedback, BJP-J & K. He can be contacted at: email@example.com)