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Politics in Jammu represents spirit of nationalism

It is very heartening to note that the Jammu province has established itself as a working and live epicentre of national aspirations in J&K and it is the right time to take the message to all corners of the Union Territory afresh

Post by on Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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Ever since the constitutional accession of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India, the Jammu province has been the hub of political activity representing the spirit of nationalism. Besides being the epicentre of national movements in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, it has assumed the status of shelter for all sorts of nationalists in the entire state (now a Union Territory). It goes to the credit of Jammu that it didn't allow fissiparous tendencies to grow in its lap for all these seven decades despite political discrimination and bias against the province.
 Jammu province is a vast piece of land comprising mountains and hills, rivers and lakes, plains and sandy patches of land engulfing an area approximately equivalent to 26,000 square kms (8 times the state of Goa). This is a land of Shiv and Shakti while Mata Vaishno Devi is its prime deity attracting millions of people throughout the year from all over the world. It has to its credit two ancient scriptures, Vasuki-Puran and Vishnudharmuttar-Puran. The beautiful rivers Chandra and Bhaga converge as Chandra-bhagha in its Kishtwar district which then take the shape of Chenab beyond the remote areas of Kishtwar and flows through the province roaring with gushing waters. Tawi from the Ramnagar tracks through the main city of Jammu to its western borders is recognised as the daughter of the Sun-god and thus called reverently the 'Suryaputri'.
Immediately after Raja Ranjit Dev in 18th century, the principality of Jammu started getting expanded and Maharaja Gulab Singh proved to be a great hero of the land to establish his empire beyond its traditional bounds, during the first and second quarters of the 19th century. He did it 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 in the Round Table Conference in London in 1930, unambiguously, challenged the UK government in their home when he advocated freedom of India from the British yoke. With this got founded the politics of national spirit in the Jammu province in the modern context and the national movements started gaining ground here.
 At the time of the partition of the state due to the tribal raid in 1947, at the initiative of the Pakistan regular army, the two gallant soldiers of Jammu province, Brig. Rajinder Singh and Brig. Usman, the valley of Kashmir and the Jammu mainland were saved. There are great stories of soldiers and common men and women who fought their battles in 1947 against the North West frontier tribal troops and the Pakistan army.
The famous movement of 'Praja Parishad' initiated by the legendary figure, Pt. Premnath Dogra, during the period of 1951-53 was based upon the nationalist ethos summarised as, "Ek Nishan-Ek Vidhan-Ek Pradhan". It was purely a struggle aimed at to get integrated with the Union of India fully in all spheres. Hundreds of people were jailed during the state-wide agitation by the then government in the state and thousands of people joined its rank and file to pursue the cause. A number of agitators lost their life due to the police firing and lathi-charge during the agitation. In fact, this movement gave Jammu an identity that conferred upon it the national recognition. This movement was later affiliated with the Jan Sangh leader, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's plan of breaking the Permit-Law for outsiders at Lakhanpur border which consequently led to his arrest and mysterious death in the Kashmir valley.
During the wars of 1965, 1971 and 1999, Jammu played a pivotal role in extending support to the Indian Army by organising lots of voluntary programmes in the entire province. Even during the Emergency period of 1975-77, people came forward and struggled to protect democracy and oppose black chapter of Emergency. People filled up jails, some lost their carriers while numberless men and women participated in the struggle under the banner of Lok Sangarsh Samiti with the leadership of JP, the Lok-Nayak.
Amarnath land agitation of 2008 with the blend of national aspirations, Jammu stood up like a rock against the ill-advised decision of the government. All shades of communities and opinion in the Jammu province participated in the three month long massive agitation. Various communities living in Jammu viz, Dogras, Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, Gujjars and people from the displaced communities of 1947 came under the strong banner of the land agitation and made Jammu known to the world for the first time in the right perspective with appropriate political narrative. Regional aspirations were indeed espoused during the agitation but they were always subservient to the national cause.
Politically speaking, Jammu province voted in favour of the Congress, a national political party, all along right from the early days of 1960s. It didn't go for any regional party but preferred the national alternative always. Regional groups, by and large, were not taken seriously by the people in the province. That is why the Panthers Party, Jammu State Morcha and Dogra Swabhiman Party etc could not make any formidable impact on the psyche of the Jammuites. In its peak form, the Panthers Party got 5 legislatures, once, in the Assembly in 2002. However, people always preferred to vote for a national alternative. Whenever need be, in absence of the Congress Party, whole of Jammu went in favour of BJP, again a national alternative. All regional permutations and combinations failed in the Jammu province, miserably, unlike in Kashmir valley and/or in Ladakh division.
Politics in Kashmir valley was/is determined, unfortunately, by a flavour of regional identity, religious connotation, secessionist motivation and soft-separatism. The master stroke of 5-6 August, 2019 by the government and the parliament broke the backbone of this particular political flavour in the Jammu and Kashmir state and especially in the Kashmir valley. All regional political groups of Kashmir valley like, National Conference, PDP and others are guided by the same political flavour which has lost political relevance, electorally speaking. Their leaders in Jammu province have also started to do a mental churning in the current context since they find themselves clueless in these political parties.  Therefore, silent exodus from these parties in the Jammu province is a natural outcome.
Ordinarily, leaders and common people alike are attracted towards a political party due to the following two reasons. One is the ideology of the political party and the second is the chance of getting politically empowered as a consequence of joining the party. In the post August-2019 scenario, the political ideology of NC, PDP and other such Kashmir centric political party has received a major setback. On the one hand their ideologies in J&K have become virtually redundant, and on the other hand their reputation as strong political groups to win elections in future has received a terrible dent. It is but natural that the leaders and the other prominent members of these Kashmir centric political parties, particularly in Jammu region, would get restless day by day. They visualise a future vacuum in these parties hence have opted for alternatives.
In a situation in which the BJP has been representing the national and local aspirations in Jammu, traditionally, with a better, rather superior, support base, leaders and common people will flock towards it as a strong national alternative. Narendra Modi, as the tallest leader of the party, has made a great impact, and has also caught the imagination of the people. It needs to be mentioned here that the BJP got 46% plus votes in the last Lok Sabha elections in J&K equivalent to the national average that the NDA got. It will however, further increase with each passing day.
Frankly speaking, the regional groups in the Jammu region have lost their ground very heavily and it would be wise for them to pursue their cause under a national banner with two main alternatives, namely BJP and Congress. Rest is simply wasting of time, energy and resources. Those of the leaders who have already crossed over to the most promising national alternative in Jammu, the BJP, have taken the lead for others to follow.
Politics doesn't wait for anyone and flows like a river. It is very heartening to note that the Jammu province has established itself as a working and live epicentre of national aspirations in J&K and it is the right time to take the message to all corners of the Union Territory afresh. Kashmir valley beckons all such leaders to make an impact therein as well for the good and welfare of the people and the nation.
(The author is a senior BJP and KP leader and Incharge, Deptt of Political Feedback, BJP-J&K. He can be reached at: ashwanikc2012@gmail.com)

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