The marriage between the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was always supposed to be a mixture of oil and water. And the crisis over the release of a separatist leader by the chief minister of the alliance government has hurt the BJP the most.
PDP took advantage of BJP's rigidity & took it for a ride
The PDP has taken the BJP for a ride in the state for it knows the avenues to consolidate its image in the Valley after entering into an alliance with the saffron party. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's politics has fooled the BJP so much so that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is finding it difficult to shrug off the embarrassment.
Kashmir episode has even put BJP's nationalist credentials under scanner
Now the question is: Why is the BJP facing so much trouble in the Jammu and Kashmir government? The party is facing a serious backlash at the Centre where PM Modi has to defend the BJP's commitment for patriotism. Has the PDP done the BJP a serious disservice by putting its nationalist credential under scanner by means of releasing Masrat Alam Bhat? The BJP is known for its strong nationalist stand and when that comes under suspicion, then the party is in serious trouble.
Majoritarian politics alone can't save BJP
It certainly has and that is not without a basis. The BJP's biggest impediment is that it survives on majoritarian politics and can not really adopt a centrist approach in its day-to-day politics. And this impediment turns into a major threat whenever the party tries to cover new territories where it has not been a force to reckon thus far. A very crucial question is thus: While replacing the Congress as an electoral competitor, has the BJP thought of replacing it as an alternative for the centrist forces in the politics of this country?
For a Congress-Mukt Bharat, the BJP must present itself in a new form
If it has not, then there is a difficult challenge to it to realise its dreams for a Congress-Mukt Bharat. The BJP must ensure that its rightist ideological stands undergo a modification and the process for its Congressification begins at the earliest.
Congress & NC went along nicely in J&K because of their centrist credentials
In Jammu and Kashmir, the changing relations between Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah have played a big role in shaping the future terms between the Congress and the National Conference.
Since both these parties have been controlled by dynasties and both had a secular credential, it was easier for them to go along in the sensitive state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Even with the PDP, the Congress was in a better position to form a government in 2002. But for the BJP to do what the Congress with its centrist leadership had done in the past all across the political landscape, the primary requirement is to shed the extremist tag. And how can the BJP shed its extremist tag? Certainly by stopping those enthusiastic motormouths and pioneers of events like Ghar Wapsi. They have posed a serious threat to Modi's credibility.
Anti-Congress sentiments now begin to die down, Modi must find an alternative
The BJP has been facing the problem of finding allies since the exit of Atal Bihari Vajpayee from active politics and more particularly, the rise of Modi in the BJP's ranks made finding allies more difficult at one moment. It was only after parties like the Congress, JD(U) and Trinamool Congress made some terrible goof-ups that the anti-incumbency wave started favouring Modi and he stormed Delhi in May last year.
The BJP came to the government in a number of states since then but Jammu and Kashmir was always a different ball-game for it is a place where just the majoritarian card wouldn't help much after the polls. The PDP knows that very well and hence is taking the BJP for a ride at every opportunity for it has to keep its constituency content for future elections.
Local leadership is another problem for BJP
The BJP has got another big problem and that is about its weak local leadership. If the BJP has to find some solution to local challenges, it must work on developing strong local leadership. A Modi or Amit Shah can't really be expected to intervene and create a magic every time the party is left in a spot. We have seen how the BJP fell flat on its face in the Delhi elections where it tried to carry out a Modi Blitzkrieg but found it to be inadequate to drawbacks of a poor local leadership.
But in danger lies an opportunity for BJP, coalition is something the BJP needs to learn
But as they say, in every danger lies an opportunity. The BJP might have tested a sour medicine in Jammu and Kashmir but it shouldn't really be calling off the alliance with the PDP in the state, citing reasons of nationalism. For if the BJP has to grow in states where it has been a non-starter since the beginning, it somehow has to tune itself to the ground reality of those states, though not with complete compromise.
It must learn from the Congress on how to get along with minority parties in state governments. Only then can it expect to widen its base away from the Hindi heartland and make it a true alternative to the Congress as a national party.
But as of now, the BJP looks to be stuck in a vicious cycle.