By Ranjana Narayan
New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) The Narendra Modi government’s revocation of Article 370, one of the core agendas of the BJP and which opposition parties had scoffed at as impossible, has filled the party rank and file with hope that the other two core issues of Ram Mandir and a Uniform Civil Code would follow soon.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which during its time in power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been forced to keep the core agenda issues out of the NDA’s Common Minimum Programme as the party had lacked majority on its own, brought it back in 2014 as part of the BJP election manifesto and also for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Prior to 2014, the other parties with which the BJP got into an alliance would insist that abrogation of Article 370 would not figure in the Common Minimum Programme. When Vajpayee first became PM in 1998, the BJP agreed that it will keep the controversial issues out of the NDA agenda.
“For the BJP it was a core issue, but it was also an issue which the coalition partners who became part of NDA resisted. But in 2014, Modiji went ahead with it, saying the BJP would come to power on its own. Then we did not have an NDA manifesto but a BJP manifesto,” BJP ideologue R. Balashankar said.
“Article 370 was back in the agenda, but the general feeling in political circles, in editorials and columns, was that, though the BJP has this as part of the agenda, it is only for the manifesto but it would never be able to implement it,” Balashankar, a former editor of the Organiser, told IANS.
“With Prime Minister Modi implementing abrogation of Article 370 it has enthused the party cadres like anything, and it has also established that the BJP core agendas are implementable and they will implement it,” he added.
The fact that it was passed in the Rajya Sabha, where the party does not have majority, with two-thirds majority has been a big boost for the BJP, Balashankar said, adding that with the “overall national mood” also in favour of the government’s move, it forced the other parties like the AAP, the TRS, the BSP and the YSR Congress to support it.
“The party is upbeat. Revocation of Article 370 has also given the impression that there is likelihood that BJP will be able to implement the other two issues also, like Ram Janmabhoomi, and Uniform Civil Code. And particularly since the Supreme Court has begun to hear the Ayodhya case on a day-to-day hearing,” he said.
The revocation of Article 370 is likely to impact the upcoming assembly elections in four states – Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and Delhi.
“The BJP is hoping Article 370 will help them win a handsome majority in these states,” Balashankar said.
Revocation of Article 370 has helped widen the political constituency of Kashmir, he said, adding that earlier, Kashmir meant only Kashmir Valley, but now Jammu and Ladakh have become equally important.
“Earlier the narrative was focused only on the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and NC (national Conference) politics, and that was what was discussed all the time. Now Ladakh has become a factor, Jammu is a factor, and those empowered by the abrogation of Article 370 are a factor. The political demography of J&K is changing,” he added.
The BJP is watching and waiting for things to return to normalcy in J&K, and when it does then it will begin its political activities in the Valley, he said.
“Civic elections will be held, the delimitation will be done with assembly constituencies drawn up according to the population. By the year end hopefully there will be state level elections,” he said.
On support to the BJP, he said the “newly empowered people will support the BJP. Some sections of Sajjad Lone’s party, the breakaway groups of NC and PDP will support the BJP”, adding that earlier they were in touch with the BJP.