Few takers for patriot games
It is a tantrum characteristic of an attention-seeking child and does little credit to a seasoned party like the BJP. Its petulant insistence on going ahead with hoisting the tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, the culmination point of its Ekta Yatra from Kolkata, would have been at best annoying, if not amusing, had the possible consequences not been so fraught with danger. Chief minister Omar Abdullah cannot be faulted for asking the BJP not to give a handle to those who oppose peace in the volatile state at this juncture. After months of violence, the state has settled into a fragile calm and there is a possibility of an inclusive dialogue involving the separatists. No one questions the BJP’s right to hoist the flag in any part of India. But surely, the BJP cannot be unaware that it could stir up a hornet’s nest if it muscles ahead with its plan.
A desperate Mr Abdullah has even invoked the BJP’s tallest leader AB Vajpayee whose sweeping initiatives to bring peace to the state will go down as among the finest by any political party. The BJP, by saying it will not reconsider its provocative decision has displayed a petty, partisan bent of mind. It is the national Opposition party, the shadow government. While it has a duty to keep the government on its toes, this particular decision does not even make sound political sense. The government has been cornered on several issues quite effectively by the BJP, corruption and the price rise being among them. This march upon Srinagar will turn attention away from the issues that affect people in their daily lives and the BJP is not likely to score too many brownie points with this. In 1992, it was no less than then party chief Murli Manohar Joshi who proceeded from Kanyakumari to Srinagar to hoist the flag. Landslides and general apathy ensured that Mr Joshi presence at Lal Chowk was not exactly his moment of triumph.
It is passing strange that the BJP considers flag hoisting in Srinagar so vital to its patriotic duty but shies away from other troubled spots like the north-east and Maoist-affected areas. For all its faults, the government has made headway in Kashmir with its interlocutors breaking the ice with the separatists. Patriotism is not the exclusive preserve of the BJP. It has a duty not to undertake any action which could have a negative fall-out on the people of the state in whose name it claims to speak. Whatever the outcome of its efforts, the BJP’s tricolour agenda is not likely to see it come out with flying colours.