|Early Times Report|
Jammu, Mar 30: It is now almost clear that the BJP, which in 2015 betrayed the trust of Jammu and subverted the mandate that it got from this region on certain Jammu-specific and nation-specific planks, is under tremendous pressure this time. It, appears, doesn't want to burn its fingers by going against the Jammu mandate and accepting for the position of servitude.
The BJP knows that there is a growing demand in Jammu not only for equal representation in the State Cabinet and the Council of Ministers and equal number of portfolios, including the Finance, Planning and Law portfolios, but also for rotational Chief Minister. And this genuine demand is based on the nature of the mandate the BJP got in Jammu and the PDP in Kashmir. Both the parties have equal number of members in the Legislative Assembly and, hence, both the regions deserve equal treatment.
In fact, everyone in Jammu has been asking the "ungrateful" BJP to accept nothing short of the 2002 Congress-PDP power-sharing formula, saying "a Hindu Chief Minister must lead the State Government for half of the remaining term of the Assembly". The BJP can't afford to ignore this demand in Jammu. For, if it ignores the Jammu sentiment and do what it did in February-March 2015, it will get completely decimated. It wants to enjoy the loaves and fishes of office, but, at the same time, it is under tremendous pressure to also consider the nature of the Jammu mandate and the Jammu's urges for equality with Kashmir and complete integration with India.
Reports emanating from the BJP headquarters in Jammu not only suggest that the party is a divided house with almost all the legislators, MLAs and MLCs included, working day and night against each other and to cultivate the bigwigs at 11, Ashoka Road, to ensure their induction in the Ministry and get important portfolios, but also feeling concerned because of its growing unpopularity in the region.
"There is hardly any BJP legislator who wants to remain out of the Ministry," told a credible source privy to what had been going on in the party since March 26, when the BJP handed over a letter of "support to the PDP in-principle".
"This has reference to your letter No PS/HG 2016/717 dated 22 March 2016, regarding formation of Government in the State. The Legislative Party of BJP, J&K, has met on 25-03-2016 at Jammu and decided to extend support to PDP in principle in the formation of the coalition Government of PDP and BJP in Jammu and Kashmir," says the letter of support, which was signed by J&K BJP president Sat Sharma.
It was a letter of support of its own kind. For, the BJP was an ally of the PDP. The letter should have clearly said that the BJP extends support to the PDP and that the alliance had the numbers with them, but by incorporating the words "in principle", the BJP only created confusion and led everyone, including the State Governor, NN Vohra, to understand that there was much that still remained unresolved between the two parties. And the inordinate delay in the formation of Government only suggests that.
That the BJP is under pressure to obtain for Jammu status of equality became clear when BJP general secretary (organization) Ashok Koul clearly said that the BJP does want equal share and does want the finance and planning portfolios. "There are many portfolios on which discussion is on with PDP, but Finance and Planning is the epicenter of the discussion," he told a Kashmir-based news gathering agency on Tuesday. That Ashok Koul made this important statement three days after the PDP and the BJP staked claim for the formation of the coalition Government must establish that the BJP is indeed under pressure from below.
However, it would be interesting to see if it gets for Jammu the coveted office of Chief Minister for half of the term. If it fails, it will lose its phase and become a pariah in this region.