When Narendra Modi came to the helm seven years ago, Narendra Modi made two ambitious promises to the most radical fringe of the Hindu nationalist sphere, the unwavering foundation of his electorate: to build a Hindu temple on the ruins of the Ayodhya mosque, and to make India’s sovereignty in Kashmir irreversible. The country’s only Muslim-majority region, which Pakistan has claimed since partition in 1947.
The first of these projects is becoming a reality, since, despite the Covid-19 epidemic, excavators have been at work for almost a year in the holy city of Uttar Pradesh, to bring out of the ground a monumental cult building to the glory of the deity Rama, symbol, according to the Minister of the Interior Amit Shah, of “the opening of a new era” in India.
The second project has just reached a decisive stage, with the reception of the main leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian part of Kashmir, by the Prime Minister on 24 June in Delhi.
For the first time since the coup of 5 August 2019, following which they were placed under house arrest and cut off from the world for several months, prominent politicians, including several former regional chief executives, were confronted by the two men who had ordered their arrest: Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
One can imagine how palpable the tension must have been. Among them was Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People’s Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir (PDP), which had governed the region in coalition with the ruling Indian People’s Party (BJP), from the death of his father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in January 2016 until the BJP’s defection in June 2018.
Also present were Farooq Abdullah, a member of the Lok Sabha, the federal Chamber of Deputies, and president of the National Conference of Jammu and Kashmir (JKNC), as well as his son Omar, former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and then for Foreign Affairs, under the government of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a leading figure of the BJP.