There is a sense of triumphalism in the BJP rank and file after the abrogation of Article 370, and the declaration of full and final integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India. Though the party has been cautious in celebrating the victory, it has planned hundreds of nation-wide rallies and conferences in September-October for mass education on the matter. The party had deliberately underplayed it so as to avoid sending out a wrong message to the people in the Valley.
The focus was on winning hearts and minds in the valley and convincing the people about the benefits of the abrogation. The message was that Kashmir will turn a new leaf in the development process. Hence, the party avoided large-scale festivities. Now, that the situation is returning to normal, the party is launching a month-long mass awareness campaign involving intellectuals and independent opinion-makers to create an atmosphere of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
A tour across the country to gauge the public mood on the issue has proved two things. The BJP cadre is highly inspired and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a mega superstar in their imagination. In fact, more than the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections win, Article 370 abrogation has made Modi-Amit Shah team the biggest hit among the party cadre.
The reason? Of the three major planks of the party -- temple in Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code -- the second one was considered the most difficult to achieve. This is because of the element of suspense in the public response in J&K to such a move, which many considered impossible in the present context.
The parliamentary passage with the two-third majority was one hurdle. But more unpredictable was the fear that the valley will explode in flames, as claimed by the votaries of the provision, including the regional parties in Kashmir and the Opposition on the national level.
As it turned out, protests proved to be a damp squib, and people reconciled to the situation with great positivity. The Jammu and Ladakh regions have enthusiastically welcomed it. Even in the valley, but for half a dozen districts, the reaction was encouraging.
For the BJP, abrogation of Article 370 was the issue on which it was founded initially. The Jana Sangh founder, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, resigned from Nehru’s cabinet in 1951, and formed the party, courted arrest and was martyred in Sheikh Abdullah’s jail protesting the special status for J&K. Ever since this has been a defining issue for the BJP.
The party adopted Uniform Civil Code and building Ram Temple in Ayodhya as the other core issues in its manifesto. However, these three planks often isolated the BJP from the rest of the political spectrum, and the party had often conceded to keep these aside, to form common minimum programme, whenever it entered into coalition politics at the Centre, be it in 1977, 1989, 1998 or 1999.
The big win in 2014 and 2019 in a way cleared the path for the BJP to set its own agenda. But a few expected such a swift and decisive action on Article 370, because of its controversial and explosive nature.
The party credits the determination of Modi and strategic acumen of Home Minister Shah in making the impossible possible. Shah has endeared himself to the cadre, and they even compare him to Sardar Patel. His brilliant piloting of the Bill in both houses of parliament and the clinical precision of handling Kashmir law and order have endeared him to the country. They now feel that the party is in a win-win situation in all future polls.
It was generally believed that all three core items in the BJP manifesto will always remain on paper. With the biggest hurdle passed, the cadre hopes that it’s only a matter of time before the two other items on the agenda are passed. The Ayodhya case, in particular, now seems a distinct possibility. This has also expanded the BJP’s popular vote base. With this, Modi will go down in history as the greatest achiever for the party, making him the darling of the masses. The BJP has become the party that always stands by the nation irrespective of the political price it has to pay.
(The writer is a political analyst and member and former Editor Organiser Weekly. Views expressed are personal.)