The Battle Of Survival

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Asem Mohiuddin

Srinagar: On Monday BJP general secretary Ram Madhav during a television interview said that everything is fair in love and war. It was his reference to a video clip in which 26 year old youth of Chil Bras village in Budgam district was tied on the bonnet of an army jeep and paraded in several villages. The young man was used as a human shield by the army to escape from the stone throwing youths on Election Day when Srinagar LoK Sabha seat went for by polls. The video was uploaded on social networking sites and within hours went viral. Such was the impact of the video even some retired army commanders raised objection over the issue and said it was sufficient to dent the image of army. However, many defended it and Ram Madhav was one of the senior most leaders of BJP to defend it. The statement of Ram Madhav who had played an important role in stitching an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came days after when senior BJP leader and J&K’s Industries Minister, Ganga Prakash made a statement that youth throwing stones should be shoot with bullets to teach them lesson. The two statements from senior leaders of its alliance partner, BJP didn’t get down well with the PDP leadership and J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who is already facing public ire after the killing of civilians in the Valley, especially after the Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani was killed in south Kashmir and in the agitation more than 90 civilians and thousands were injured. For the first time since the formation of coalition government war of words broke out between the two partners, though still it never went to the extent that will put the coalition in jeopardy. PDP’s response came by two senior PDP leaders, J&K’s Education Minister, Altaf Bukhari and PDP vice president, Sartaj Madni and terming the statement of Prakash ‘as unjustifiable’ but ‘perilous as well’.

“It is unbecoming of a senior Minister in the Government to dish out such a sweeping, sickening and intimidating statement against the Kashmiri youth,” Madni who is maternal uncle of J&K chief minister said while reacting on the statement. Madni said the statement of Minister Ganga is also in contravention to the stand of the State Cabinet on the issue which in its meeting held in Jammu on April 18, expressed deep anguish over the loss of lives in the Valley and directed the security agencies to exercise maximum restraint while handling law and order situations to prevent loss of lives. “ instead of reaching out to the distressed and alienated Kashmiri youth and address their concerns, the hawkish rhetoric of such fringe elements has the danger of further adding to the alienation of the people and impending the government’s efforts of restoring peace and calm in the Valley.”

Even the J&K Education Minister, Altaf Bukhari also lashed out on the remarks of Ram Madhav and terming the remarks of BJP general secretary as perilous and even asked him not to defend indefensible. He even went further by saying that these statements are aimed at legitimising a crime that is abhorred internationally. ‘’one fails to understand against whom Mr. Madhav has declared war. Is it a war declared against Kashmirirs who despite all odds cast their votes reaffirming their belief in democracy? Or it is a war declared to satiate the sanguine electoral interests of a particular political party in the country,’’ Bhukari said while directly referring to the BJP high command.

These statements from PDP also came when a meeting of BJP’s Core group was held in New Delhi in which Kashmir situation and issues related to the Valley came for discussion. The meeting besides, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi was also attended by the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh. And if sources are to be believed some BJP leaders advised the Centre party leadership to impose Governors rule in J&K and blamed J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti for failing to control the situation. After the proceedings of the meetings were leaked in the media it also pressed the PDP in a panic mode and opposition leaders including former J&K chief minister, Omar Abdullah and former Union Home Minister and senior Congress leader, P Chidambaram also hinted that Centre is planning to go for the Governors rule and they even welcomed it. In fact, the opposition was aimed to create a fear among coalition leaders that finally the experiment of trying to bring North and South Pole closer has crumbled and the experiment has brought chaos and confusion in the Valley. However, after J&K chief minister’s meeting with Army chief, General Bipin Rawat and some top stakeholders of North Block, the chief minister was conveyed that imposition of Governors rule is being floated by disgruntled opposition. And after the meeting of Mehbooba Mufti with Prime Minister, Modi on Sunday the rumours were put to rest. On the other hand, Chander Prakash Ganga also retracted from his statement and Ram Madhav also tried to clarify his position though he didn’t retract from his statement. 

Sources within the government claim that all is well within the coalition government and the current government will complete its full term with the help of Centre leadership and termed the current crisis as aberration in politics. However, the recent elections for the Legislative Council seats in which one legislator from Kargil Bakir Rizvi, ditched the PDP and voted for the BJP and the PDP candidate, Abdul Qayoom Khan lost election and BJP’s candidate emerged as victorious. The incident left PDP stagiest surprised and even some within the PDP are openly claiming that the BJP could ditch PDP any time when it feels the party is proving baggage for its national politics. Even some leaders within the party had suggested the chief minister, that before BJP could ditch the PDP, they should devise a political move which will help the party and give it a face saving as party had paid a huge price in Kashmir by allying with the BJP.

J&K chief minister is keeping her cards close to her chest and has maintained complete silence over the current state of affairs in the J&K. The recently concluded by elections in which only, 7.16 percent voters cast their ballot had left not only mainstream politicians in a state of shock but the parties at the national level are speechless and the narrative which has been build around the democratic process seems to have crumbled. Under this position, any experiment by the Centre government could backfire and put Valley into further chaos and situation could turn from bad to worse. Though some people in New Delhi are also thinking about alternate to chief minister, political analysts feel that it is all posturing from the coalition partners to send signals to their core voters and a message to people, PDP in Kashmir and BJP in Jammu and rest of the country.

“As of now there is no danger to coalition government. The only threat to the current government is that if J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti decides to go for Governors rule,’’ said a senior leader of ruling PDP party who is privy to all the developments. “There is already alienation towards Centre government and it could further complicate situation for New Delhi, in case they dump its coalition partner.’’

Even the BJP leadership also believes that there is no danger to the government instead they have started questioning their own ministers for remaining confined to their own constituencies. “Ram Madhav has grilled BJP ministers and blamed them for not trying to reach out to the disgruntled elements in the Valley through development and governance,’’ said a top BJP leader.

And if sources are to be believed the Centre high command is not happy with the state BJP. “This was an opportunity for the BJP to win the trust of people through governance but the ministers have failed. The BJP has remained Jammu centric, which has not gone down well with BJP Centre command who want to take full advantage of the being in power.’’

For the first time Centre seems to be worried as it has failed to take the gains made in the past forward and now the BJP core leadership is also blaming the ministers of both the parties for not keeping up the expectations of the people. “J&K government has failed to deliver,’’ was an open admission of Ram Madhav who is also J&K in charge of BJP chapter. And this statement could have long lasting effects on the government and governance and BJP is planning for some more political moves in J&K. Whether it will work or will again crumble time will tell. 

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