the NC’s resolution for the restoration of autonomy or the PDP’s ambitious self-rule proposal, Delhi did not even accept smaller administrative recommendations by its own working groups, who sought the repeal of draconian laws like the AFSPA. The report compiled by the most recent group of Central interlocutors wasn’t even acknowledged.
With the BJP joining the electoral battle for the J&K assembly elections this year, the situation has taken a new turn. For more than a decade, government formation in J&K was about the Congress choosing an alliance partner. It swung between archrivals the NC and PDP, and managed to stay in government. The state’s politics could be transformed if the BJP now displaces the Congress from Jammu and garners a few seats in the Valley, where its boycott of talks with Pakistan and its rebuff to the Hurriyat may win it votes among migrant Kashmiri Pandits. Apart from a polarisation along religious lines, this redrawing of the political map will make both the NC and the PDP irrelevant in the state. It could also force the Hurriyat moderates to revise their decade-long stance and push for a union with the Geelani faction in order to survive. With the sugar-coating gone from Delhi’s Kashmir policy, the faultlines are clear. There will be no room for the ambiguous middle ground created through the PDP’s soft separatism, the NC’s demand for autonomy and the dialogue mantra of the Hurriyat moderates. It’s going to be a direct battle between the narratives of integration and azadi.