In the aftermath of the most devastating flood of the century in Kashmir after the total collapse of the “Banana Government”, it was suggested in these columns that the best alternative for the state was to impose Governor’s rule and fully activate the administrative machinery for restoration without any political interference. As usual, Delhi dithered in taking such a decision probably to avoid international embarrassment of imposing the central rule. In spite of the fact that the conditions were totally disturbed because of massive destruction and the displacement of a sizeable population, it went ahead with elections. In normal conditions, the people would not have bothered about these elections, boycott or no boycott. However, two things motivated people to come out to vote. The first was to get rid of the nincompoop “Banana Government” to ensure quick relief and restoration and the other was to stem the alarming Hindutva tide trying to sweep away the centuries old traditional identity of the religious tolerance of the saintly Valley. The twin pronged vote has given a fractured mandate as the people voted for the persons who had the best chance of winning thereby making all the BJP candidates except one lose their deposits in the valley. Jammu was totally swept by the Hindutva tide thereby giving BJP a sizeable majority. Ladakhis chose the safest alternative as perceived by them.
The fractured and confusing mandate has made it virtually impossible to clobber together a government in conformity with the trust imposed by various people from the different regions in the representatives elected by them. The differences in agendas as well as in ideologies between the regional and the national parties make it very difficult to put together a stable combination. From both sides any climb down would be detrimental and the combination may not last long. This is especially so because of the massive pre-election hype generated by both sides. The only grand alliance possible is for all parties to come together to form a sort of a national government giving representation to each region and safeguarding interests of all the citizens of the State of J & K. Even though this appears to be a tall order yet if the people are sincere, something could be worked out with the revival of the now most battered proposal of regional autonomy. Whether we like it or not, the state has been divided on regional as well as communal lines by the recent mandate.
The unending wait for the government formation has totally paralysed the administration. Not only is the relief and restoration going on a snail’s pace but the overall developmental activities have come to a standstill. Everybody is waiting for the new government and its policies. In these circumstances, it would be advisable for the Central Government to impose Governor’s rule, may be for a short stint of six months as provided under the constitution, keeping the assembly in suspended animation. That may give a breathing time to politicians of all hues and shades to either make up their mind or go for fresh elections in case of a deadlock. The Governor can go full steam ahead with the implementation of the relief package without any political interference. If Delhi is able to deliver and ameliorate the lot of the suffering masses through a capable governor, it may earn more goodwill than by imposing its own agenda of Mission 44+ rejected by the people, by bulldozing the same by hook or by crook! The ball is in Delhi’s court!