Recently Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had been to the valley for a four-day visit has brought in new hopes for the People’s Democratic Party and BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. Though the meeting was announced long after the Congress had already announced its visit. While Rajnath was holding a meeting in Srinagar Congress delegation was in Jammu.
A delegation led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Jammu and Kashmir last Sunday and will again be visiting the valley on 16 Sep to hold meetings with several politicians, activists, and delegations in Srinagar. The Congress delegation led by Manmohan Singh includes former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and the present leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and P Chidambaram who has served as the home minister as well as the finance minister of India.
In the past 10 years, three major uprising has taken place in the valley the first one happening in 2008 when Ghulam Nabi Azad was the Chief Minister, second in 2010 when Chidambaram was the Union Home Minister and the third in 2016 whose aftermath are still being dealt with.
It is being believed that the effort of presenting the face of Manmohan Singh was in order to attract the people and reach out to them in large numbers as his image being that of a saint. But the speculations contradicts itself as Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit had upstaged the visit of the Congress delegation, as when Rajnath was in Srinagar, the Congress was in Jammu.
This effort taken by the Congress is the most commendable move in the past three years. Ahead of the visit of the Congress delegation, senior party members have worked frivolously to make the preparations for the visit both in Jammu and Srinagar. A noticeable leader Tariq Kara who parted from the PDP and resigned from the seat in Rajya Sabha in 2016 was also involved in the preparations for the visit. In fact, he was shouldered with one of the biggest responsibility to organise a delegation of lawyers, one of the most politically involved professions in Kashmir.
Over the past three years, a sentiment of anti-incumbency has risen in Jammu from where the BJP had won during the 2014 elections and Congress is the most likely to benefit from these rising sentiments.
The current visits of the Congress party members is indicating the comeback of the party in the valley. Support from the Congress on issues such as the state’s autonomy, and on the need for bold moves to resolve disputes, tend to strengthen footholds of the party in the state. The former Union cabinet minister and the previous president of the state Congress Saifuddin Soz in his statement on Wednesday said that the motive behind these visits could be to energise and rebuild the National Conference.
Congress till now has been very close to the National Conference. Though the alliance between the National Conference and Congress is politically possible and may be a viable thought but the alliance will not even be near to the number required for a majority in the state assembly.
Congress’ visits to Jammu and Kasmir are being regarded as tactful moves in order to get a hold in the valley again, this may be a reason for worry for the BJP as the anti incumbency in the state is increasing rapidly.