Article 370: Precedence over other issues

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Article 370 seems to be in the Ram temple mode for the . Indications are that it is getting precedence over all other issues since it has the potential to browbeat the Congress much more easily. It strikes an instant chord with large chunks of voters outside Kashmir and does not necessarily run into any confrontation with the judiciary.  With not even Opposition parties willing to take on the BJP aggressively on it and parties like BSP, BJD, YSR Congress, AIADMK, AAP and even TDP already having supported it and recalcitrant ally JD(U) having taken a literal U-turn on the issue after initially opposing it, the BJP is confident that no counter polarisation is likely.  So on one hand, Prime Minister Modi is pulling up motor mouths on Ram temple issue pending before the Supreme Court and asking them to have faith in the judiciary, and feigns an eerie silence on Uniform Civil Code (which Law Commission of India in August year said is “neither necessary nor desirable”), on the other, leaders of BJP are vying with each other in ratcheting up muscular nationalism on the issue of abrogation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP president Amit Shah has asked party workers to strive at creating a “deshbhakton ki toli (group of patriots) everywhere during the campaign in which 3,229 party workers and leaders will pan out. In Maharashtra, Amit Shah asked voters to choose between nationalistic parties like BJP which quashed Article 370 or Congress and NCP, which he alleged are family-oriented parties.The effect of anger over Article 370 is localised in the Valley where the saffron party does not have a direct political space. In the rest of the country including the adjoining Jammu and Ladakh, BJP has got seemingly strengthened after the decision. The Musilm voters in other parts of the country, who are anyhow not in the BJP’s votebank, are not directly affected by the decision in Kashmir, where the local populace have not on many occasions identified with the issues of Muslims in rest of the country. Besides, the ambiguous stands taken by a number of parties have ensured that no centralised consolidation of Muslim voters against BJP may be seen anywhere. Seeking to put the Congress in the dock, Shah during a lecture in Mumbai, squarely blamed India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the disputed status of J&K saying it was because of his decision for a ceasefire with Pakistan that PoK came into existence.

Many prominent BJP leaders including J P Nadda and Rajnath Singh have spoken in one voice about the need to set the records straight over Article 370. In Jharkhand, Shah last week said that by removing  Article 370 and 35A, Modi has showed Pakistan its real place and proved J&K is an integral part of India and nobody can snatch it. As election campaign gains momentum in Maharashtra and Haryana where BJP is seeking a second term, and dates of elections for another BJP-ruled state Jharkhand expected to be declared next month-end, Kashmir is all set to dominate political discourse in rest of India.

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