When the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed decided to enter his party into wedlock with a surging BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, in what he described as the coming together of the “North Pole and South Pole”, his calculation was that the merger of two radically different political entities in a coalition will tide over the trust deficit between the Hindu-majority Jammu and Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley.
Another rationale offered by the PDP leaders is that the economic disempowerment of Jammu and Kashmir by successive regimes at the Centre was also playing heavily on Mufti’s mind. So, seeing a glimpse of Atal Bihari Vajpayee — with whom he had a good equation — in Narendra Modi, the PDP-BJP coalition seemed to Mufti a perfect recipe to address all the problem in the turmoil-hit state. He was banking on the saffron party’s benevolence.
However, people who had voted, as well as those who didn’t for Mufti’s party in the Valley were sceptical. They saw in PDP-BJP coalition a ripe plot for disaster. After all, how could the green party, which appealed to voters during election rallies to vote for them in order to keep the saffron party at bay, marry into the very alt-right brigade. Surely there must have been some closed-door deal. As conspiracies grew, so did Mufti’s resolve to solemnise the wedding, perhaps at the cost of his party’s constituency — the Kashmir Valley.
Two years down the line, the gap between Jammu and Kashmir has widened like never before and the Centre’s political and economic rigidity towards Jammu and Kashmir has also shot up to the point that there has been a complete silence, if not subversion, by the BJP on some of the key issues agreed to between the two parties in their governance framework called ‘Agenda of the Alliance’.
Forget bridging the divide between Jammu and Kashmir, the two parties have not been able to bridge the divide between themselves first. In a cabinet meeting recently, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was reportedly told by the deputy chief minister Dr Nirmal Singh, that he will have to seek consent from the party “high command” in New Delhi before clearing an order which would have given level playing field for KPS and IPS cadre officers.
Also, during the meeting, there was also some verbal exchanges over the replacement of the chief secretary which the BJP opposed. Unable to keep the coalition flock together, Mehbooba walked out of the meeting she was supposed to chair and shut herself at her official residence.
A question arises here: If, after being in power for nearly two years the BJP has to seek permission from the “high command” to give its consent to a simple administrative issue, what is the role of the chief minister then? It gets more embarrassing than this. Why should even an administrative issue get New Delhi’s nod? Is the state or its political leadership not competent enough to take decisions for the welfare of the state?
In doing so, the state BJP may have inferred its powerlessness or how incapacitated it feels in front of the Central leadership. However, that is not exactly the case. The BJP’s oblique reference shows who gets to call the shots in Jammu and Kashmir. Opposing the decision of providing a level playing field to KPS officers has the contempt of the BJP for the police officers, who gave their blood for the state’s better tomorrow, written all over it. In not taking a decision, the BJP has not only shown that it only trusts a section of Jammu and Kashmir Police, not the police force in itself which has been at the forefront of fighting militancy in the state, but also showed the party’s lack of trust in Mehbooba.
Issuing provocative statements has been the hallmark of the BJP since it allied with the PDP. It started on the day the government came into office. Today, a common belief in Kashmir is that Burhan Wani’s death was trigger of a volcano which was building up not just against the PDP-BJP government but especially against the BJP as a party in power which talks about abrogation of Article 370 and refuses to even consider the request of PDP for phase-wise demilitarisation of the State.
A sad reality of this, which is yet to dawn on the PDP leadership, is that it is not the BJP which is losing the plot. It is the Mufti’s PDP. His vision of tiding over the political and cultural difference lies frozen. If there were to be held polls in Kashmir tomorrow, the BJP may most likely retain its strength, but the PDP would surely be decimated. That is what Mehbooba must reflect upon. Her time is running out.
First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 10:32 IST