Anticipating BJP’s design for Kashmir, Mridu Rai writes about the events in the run up to the Abrogation of Article 370 in the book Majoritarian State which was published in early 2019. Stating that it is perilous for historians to turn soothsayers, she stops short of predicting that this is bound to happen. However, broadly hinting at it she concludes: “In national elections, J & K counts for very little: it sends up only six members to the Indian Parliament. However, by providing the powerful symbols of Islamic terror within the nation that the BJP alone can defeat, Kashmiris will continue to be useful in corralling many of the 540-odd members of the Lok Sabha.”
Kashmir is isolated through various discursive strategies to make it serve both as a dangerous exception threatening the Indian/Hindu body politic but also as a containable menace. A specialty of the Hindu Right—shared in different degrees by other parties—has been the construct of religious differences mapped onto the three sub-regional segments of the state. This becomes the basis for a three-way perspectival division of the state. In this view, Jammu is Hindu, Ladakh Buddhist and Kashmir Muslim.
The BJP has reinterpreted the outcome of the 2014 elections to confirm this understanding. Its majority win there made Hindu Jammu a reality—and ‘the backbone of the nation in the state’—and its routing in the Valley reinforced the paradigm that Kashmir is Muslim and anti-national. But the BJP won no seats in Ladakh either: the Congress won three out of four, an independent Shia candidate taking the last. Yet a supposedly Buddhist Ladakh—Hindutva claims Buddhists as ‘their own’ on the erroneous premise that their religion is merely an offshoot of Hinduism—is automatically assimilable in the rashtra.