Growing restlessness in a section of traditional BJP voters in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere may have been a key reason behind the party’s decision to pull out of the coalition government in the state today, BJP sources said.
Party leaders in the state’s Jammu division said their core support was growing unhappy and the cadre dispirited over what is being seen as the PDP-BJP government’s inability to deliver on the saffron party’s two main planks — development and crushing terrorism in Kashmir.
Analysts said a likely spell of governor’s rule in the state will permit the central government to take tough measures against terrorism, which may provide the ruling BJP a plank in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“It seems their (BJP’s) image is going down on the problem of Kashmir. This is a kind of rebuilding of their image and they will hope to retrieve some ground,” said Manindra Nath Thakur, an associate professor with the Centre for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The BJP wants to bring some normalcy there before the elections and tell its support base that it means business on the problem of security, he said.
Even the recent rape and murder of a minor girl from a nomadic Muslim tribe in Kathua underlined the growing mistrust between the two parties with regional BJP leaders joining protests against the state police probe, which was strongly backed by the PDP.
At his press conference where he announced that the party was pulling out of the coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav flagged the deterioration in the security situation as one of the reasons for the decision.
“The security scenario has deteriorated causing serious concern about the protection of basic fundamental rights of life, free speech, etc,” he said.
“The daylight murder of a respected editor like Shujaat Bukhari in the heart of Srinagar city is an indicator to the deterioration of the situation and the extent of radicalization,” he said.
For the BJP, Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of great national importance also, he said, adding there was a grave concern in the country over the security situation in the state.
National integration is paramount for the BJP and it cannot compromise on that question, he said.
He also claimed that resentment in the state’s Jammu and Ladakh regions has been growing over the lack of development and also because of a “perceptible sense of discrimination” felt there.
The BJP members in the state government have strived their best to serve the people in the state including those in the regions of Jammu and Ladakh, he said.
But the BJP ministers faced a situation where the government as a whole has been lacklustre in dealing with the needs of the people of these regions, he added.
Jammu and Kashmir has only six Lok Sabha seats and the BJP’s influence is limited to the two seats in Jammu and, to some extent, the one seat in Ladakh.
But the situation in the state has an impact on the political discourse elsewhere in the country.