Last week all of the sudden, BJP president Amit Shah called all the BJP ministers in J&K to New Delhi. Apparently, the meeting according to the BJP leaders had been called to national capital to discuss the visit of BJP national president Amit Shah to J&K. As BJP ministers reached Delhi speculations became rift BJP may walk out from the government paving way for the Governors rule in J&K. Officials and BJP and the PDP leaders, however, termed these reports as ‘’baseless’’ though social media was abuzz with such news that after three years of partnership, the PDP – BJP coalition will fall.
Only after Amit Shah ended meeting with BJP ministers, it became evident the government which was described by the former J&K chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as meeting of north and south pole finally ended as news channels started flashing breaking news that BJP decided to walk out from coalition government. Ironically, it was through media that PDP top brass and ministers came to know that coalition government has ended.
Mehbooba Mufti who was in the civil secretariat came to know about the fall of government through media. Later, Mufti addressed the press conference at her official residence Fair View and told the media that she had submitted her resignation that paved way for imposition of the Governors rule in J&K. The PDP leadership didn’t even use any bad words for its former ally for breaking the alliance.
“I am not shocked as this alliance was never for power. PDP never believes in power politics and we worked for the people,’’
Mehbooba maintained that Jammu and Kashmir was not an enemy territory as being perceived by few. “We had always said muscular security policy will not work in J&K, reconciliation is key,” she said.
She said that her party has safeguarded Article 370 and 35-A (of the Constitution) and “we will continue to do that”.
“We have been able to withdraw 11,000 cases against the stone pelters,” she said while listing her side of the story after the BJP pulled out of its alliance with the PDP in the state.
She also mentioned the unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore in 2015.
Mehbooba said that her party will continue to strive for dialogue and reconciliation in the state.
The decision comes within days of the Centre deciding not to extend the Ramzan ceasefire in the Kashmir. The PDP especially chief minister was in favour of extending the ceasefire and had been trying to put pressure on the centre government, however, centre didn’t pay any heed to the requests of the chief minister and other PDP leadership.
“It has become untenable for the BJP to continue the alliance with PDP. Keeping in mind that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and in order to control the prevailing situation in the state, we have decided that the reins of power in the state be handed over to the governor,” BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir in-charge Ram Madhav said adding that the “situation in the Kashmir Valley is not right today.
For few days neither, BJP nor the PDP leadership used any bad words against each other. However, on Saturday during a rally in Jammu, BJP national president, Amit Shah blamed the Mehbooba Mufti and the PDP for ignoring the Jammu and Ladakh regions of the state. Shah also said that national party gave preference to national interests over government and scarified the government for the cause of national interests which according to Shah is dear to the BJP.
However, Shah’s address didn’t go down well within the PDP leadership who had so far desisted from using any harsh words for the government after BJP pulled its support.
In response to Shah’s allegations of discrimination, former J&K chief minister, said that many false charges levelled against the PDP by our former allies,” she said, “Our commitment to the AoA, which was co-authored by (BJP leader) Ram Madhav and endorsed by senior leaders like Rajnath (Singh) never wavered. It is sad to see them disown their own initiative and label it a ‘soft approach’,’’ Mehbooba said in a series of tweets.
She said that status quo on Article 370, dialogue with Pakistan and Hurriyat were a part of AoA. Encouraging dialogue, withdrawing cases against stone-pelters and the unilateral ceasefire were much needed measures to restore confidence on the ground. This was recognized and endorsed by the BJP.
“Allegations of discrimination against Jammu and Ladakh have no basis in reality. Yes, the (Kashmir) Valley has been in turmoil for a long time and the floods of 2014 were a setback, therefore needed focused attention. But that does not mean that there was any less development elsewhere,” she further said.
The BJP which has a tough position on Kashmir situation and vizavia Pakistan was caught in trouble when former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti directed Jammu and Kashmir police to lodge an FIR against the Major Aditya and his personals of 10 Gharwal unit in Gunwapora Shopian during civilian killings in army firing in February this year.
However, the tensions between the PDP-BJP date back to the statement of Mehbooba Mufti when she in July 2017 said that “nobody in Kashmir will hoist tri colour if article 370 is tempered with.”
Her statement has put the BJP again on back foot in New Delhi; the sources said when the party had fought the elections ideologically backing a slogan of Ek Desh, ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan.
The last nail in the coffin to the alliance in state was the ceasefire announced by New Delhi during Ramdhan which turned miserably a failed effort though Mehbooba was pitching for its extension.
“We urged repeatedly Mehbooba to run the state affairs smoothly and ensure good governance to the people. But instead she was pushing its alliance partner on back foot and trying to prove her hegemony over us. So the things had reached to the extreme end where the alliance was supposed to be called off,” sources in the BJP told The Legitimate.
The BJP believed that in its coalition with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir it had lost the substantial ground in country and especially in Jammu which would be very difficult to regain in present times and ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections though the efforts are on.
Meanwhile, the state has come under the Governor’s rule, the politicians of all the mainstream parties are keeping close eye on the situation and political moves, however, it now looks there are clear indications that Governor’s rule may get prolonged.
The end of the PDP- BJP coalition came on the expected lines however its timing came as a surprise, especially in the backdrop of the recent visit of Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh who seemed to be happy over the situation in Kashmir, especially when he addressed a big youth conclave organized by the PDP.
However, spurt in violence and stand of the PDP over extension of ceasefire and talks with Pakistan was creating problem for the BJP’s national narrative. The series of violence related incidents and militant attacks were portraying the BJP in a very bad shape on the national level. So, they wanted to break this alliance and tried to shift blame of failures on the PDP. Whether, it will help the BJP in regaining its lost ground could be tested during upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Another aspect for breaking this alliance was the Rasana Kathua incident, where an eight year old girl was brutally raped and then killed. The PDP took the stand which BJP leadership thought was against its core constituency. Even shifting of the case outside state was considered as the victory of the PDP and the failure of BJP by their supporters. That also became one of the reasons where BJP leadership though they lost their base in Jammu after former Chief Minister Mebooba Mufti refused to handover the investigations of the case to CBI. BJP in 2014 secured the sweeping majority in Assembly elections in Jammu region bagging 25 seats.
The other factor highlighted by the BJP is that issue of governance in the state, however, the PDP leaders say that rather than blaming Mehbooba Mufti, the BJP should have pulled up their ministers who were not working. Now both the PDP and BJP leaders are back to square blaming each other, it now remains to be seen who is going to make or break the situation in the troubled J&K state, where currently the graph of the militancy has gone up and youth are inclined towards taking up arms instead of looking towards mainstream politicians.
The coming months would see more violence and it will also test the base of the various mainstream political parties how they are going to open up lines of communication with the voters. As of now, even leaders of mainstream political parties admit that it is becoming difficult for them to reach out to the people.
This Story First Published In Print Edition Of ‘The Legitimate’