The dissolution of the Jammu & Kashmir assembly by Governor Satya Pal Malik on 21 November, is to be seen only as a continuation of the anti-democratic approach adopted by the Centre towards the state and its people for long by the Central government.
When in 2015 the BJP and PDP came together as an alliance and formed a coalition ministry with Mufti Muhammad Sayeed as chief minister, it surprised most political observers. Later, following Mufti Sayeed's death, his daughter Mehbooba Mufti assumed chief ministership. However in June 2018, when the BJP withdrew from the alliance, the ministry collapsed. With no other party or alliance being able to form a ministry, the state moved to Governor's rule, which was due to end on 18 December.
In the meantime, PDP, National Conference and Indian National Congress gave a letter to the Governor staking their claim to form a government. The current assembly's term is until December 2020. There is no doubt that when these three parties come together, they will have a clear majority. Given that fact, the natural course for the governor to take was to invite the leader of alliance to form a ministry. But, quite unexpectly, the next day saw the order of the Governor dismissing the assembly. The act of dismissing an assembly elected by the people, merely to safeguard the interests of political masters, constituted a big blow to our democratic precepts.
Misusing constitutional institutions for politial ends is a major agenda of Narendra Modi government. It is not only the office of the governor, but the judiciary, the Election Commission, Reserve Bank and most recently even the CBI have all been subjected to such abuse, as per evidence that have come out. The intervention in Kashmir has to be seen as the latest in that series. It is true that formation of a coalition government other than its own is something that the BJP cannot tolerate. Those in the BJP do not recognize even the constitutionally granted special status of Kashmir. It may also be their understanding that only when the state stays under Governor rule can their divisive agenda be implemented.
The Governor's office has issued a press release saying that the assembly was dissolved because of the chances of horse-trading and money changing hands. It is beyond one's understanding how the question of horse-trading would arise when three parties with the numerical strength necessary for a clear majority, .stake a claim to form a ministry. The Governor's press release also mentions the impossibility of formation of a ministry by parties with opposing political ideologies. This comment by the governor of a state where two parties on opposite poles - PDP and BJP - had formed a ministry, can only be seen as a joke. And what type of parties should come together to form a ministry should not be a consideration of the Governor. What he should primarily have done was to accept the claim of parties when they have the required majority.
More lethal than the Governor's irrational explanations were the comments of BJP leaders in this regard. The reaction of BJP general secretary Ram Madhav was that the move to form a ministry was made as per the directions from across the border. Ram Madhav also alleged that the boycott of the local elections in Kashmir by the Opposition parties was also as instructed by those across the border. BJP sees even the mainstream parties involved in the political process, as those doing the bidding of neighbouring countries. If that is the case, one can easily guess how BJP and its Central Government would be viewing the people of that state.
Everybody knows that the issue of Kashmir is one that causes huge liabilities and burden for the country. Ever since the country became independent, Kashmir has remained a problem. There may be several complex reasons for that, which need to be subjected to close analysis too. However, it is true that the alternating governments in the Centre have not cared to take the people of Kashmir into confidence or to strengthen democratic institutions there. It is also true that the electoral fraud alleged to have taken place in the 1987 assesmbly elections, became the major factor in the strengthening of secessionist movements of today. Something akin to that is the latest event of dismissing an assembly elected by the people. There is no dispute that deeds which weaken democratic institutions will only make the Kashmir issue that much more complicated.