After about three decades, the Congress is attempting to replay the competitive regional and religious politics. The party believes it is probably the only way to resurrect itself now and to check the saffron surge.
The hint was dropped by former Congress minister Sham Lal Sharma.
He resigned from the cabinet accusing the National Conference of discriminating with the Jammu region on the issue of regularisation of casual workers. He had earlier made a 'controversial' remark of a Hindu chief minister in the state.
The National Conference hit back saying Sharma has a communal mindset and tried to create wedge between the Jammu and Kashmir regions.
The reaction suits the Congress. It has won 14 out of the 17 seats from the Jammu region in the last assembly elections.
In 1982, the NC passed a Permanent Resettlement Bill, providing for the resettlement of all those persons who had migrated to Pakistan after March 1947. It was only the Muslims who had migrated.
The Congress made it an election issue in 1983 polls. The then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, played it hard. The Congress won 26 seats, sweeping all the Hindu dominated-seats in the Jammu region. The NC, too, got benefited as it got 46 seats.
In the recent parliamentary elections, the Congress lost all three parliamentary seats to the BJP, including two in the Jammu region.
The BJP polled 32% votes, a little above the overall percentage of votes polled by it nation-wide. The BJP is eyeing for maximum seats in the Jammu region, which has 37 seats. It hopes to repeat its Haryana magic to decimate the Congress in J&K also.
The statement by Sham Lal was a part of the systematic and calculated ploy. He had first opposed the Omar Abdullah's comment of questioning the accession of the state to India. Sham had also called for regional council for the Jammu region. The Congress recently got the financial package for the refugees settled in the Jammu division approved by the state cabinet.
The BJP, which has base in the Jammu region, has almost taken custody of these Jammu-centric issues. The party used them against the Congress earlier. The Congress leadership believes in competitive sub-regional politics in Kashmir, but it stands little chance to gain as the things stand now. The election results and resurgent BJP has forced it to pedal soft Hindutava card.
"What else could we do? We have been pushed to the corner, despite the fact we have worked hard for the Jammu region," said a Congress leader, wishing not to be named.