Jammu: Has the PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir reached a tipping point from where there is no point of return? That is the question on the minds of political observers in the state who have been watching the alliance drift apart after coming together in 2014, in what was described as an ‘unholy marriage’ of two ideas lying at the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
“We are tired of their (BJP’s) deception,” a senior PDP leader and member of Jammu and Kashmir’s legislative council, told Firstpost, adding, “We were not able to deliver on our promises because of their betrayal. With what face will we approach our voters now? As far as I can see, it is only a matter of time before this failed experiment is put to an end.”
The MLA says that due to the ‘Operation All-Out’, a major offensive against militants planned by the Union ministries of home affairs and defence, Kashmir has reached a point where death has become a wish and “more and more youth” are inclined towards militancy. “It has all happened due to the aggressive policies of the BJP. A fire has been sparked in Kashmir but no one knows how to put an end to it,” the MLA added.
The rift between the two parties has now come out into the open with Tassaduq Mufti, brother of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, sounding the bugle of break-up on Friday.
Mincing no words in an interview with The Indian Express, Tassaduq castigated the Centre for pushing Kashmir towards a situation “where it can lead to bloodshed of a scale that doesn’t find a precedent in history”.
“The Centre should give up its obduracy and recognise the problem at hand, de-escalate tension, resume the political process… implement the commitments made in the agenda of alliance,” he said.
And, in case the Centre continues with its current policy, Tassaduq said the PDP will “take one last bow and apologise to the people (of Jammu and Kashmir) for having unknowingly pushed them into something they did not deserve”.
“People can have opinions and should have them and that is the beauty of democracy,” Rafi Mir, a PDP spokesperson said. However, Mir clarified that despite the difference in opinions over several issues, both the BJP and PDP) “are now on the same page because Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has been adamant that Asifa has to get justice”.
Point of no return?
Ever since the PDP-BJP alliance started ruling the border state in 2014, the state has remained gripped by controversies, mostly of BJP’s making, that threaten to change its political make-up. Instead of the coming together of the ‘North Pole’ and ‘South Pole’, as the late Mufti Sayeed had envisioned, the social, political and cultural boundaries between the Hindu-majority Jammu and Muslim-dominated Kashmir have sharpened.
The alliance, whose architect (from PDP) and the state’s finance minister Haseeb Drabu was unceremoniously sacked by the Jammu and Kashmir chief ministe earlier this year, suffered credibility crisis from day one. After all, both the parties had fought the 2014 Assembly election on agendas that were in contradiction with their stated positions in the governance agenda. For many, the alliance was a planned experiment in politics gone horribly wrong.
“For both PDP and BJP, it was an alliance of mutual interest, ie, power grab, but it has ignited dangerous tensions in the state where even Panchayat elections can’t be held due to fear of large-scale anti-state violence. The recent civilian killings have only added fuel to the fire,” Noor M Baba, a prominent political scientist and dean of social science at Central University of Kashmir, said.
From the attempts to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional position (granted by Artilce 35A of the Constitution) by shady groups affiliated with the Hindu right, the rejection of the state government’s demand for the return of power projects and the “slow” pace of release of funds to the state under the prime minister’s development package, the promises made by the alliance to the people of Jammu and Kashmir were broken one after another.
Asifa as a turning point?
The communal winds, blown in the Jammu region by BJP whose two leaders and Cabinet ministers in the Mehbooba-led government — Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga — attended a rally by Hindu Ekta Manch, has brought the coalition partners on the crossroads.
The BJP leaders have put Mehbooba in a tight spot by openly endorsing the rallies and protests against the Jammu and Kashmir Police crime branch, which investigated the Kathua rape and murder case. However, the party has put a cloak of ambiguity on the issue with state BJP spokesperson Sunil Sharma reiterating the demand for a CBI probe into the case.
“People have lost faith in the crime branch. Our party is not in favour of the culprits. We are only demanding a CBI probe into the case which will address the concerns of the people in Jammu,” Sharma, said, adding that BJP will continue to support the demand for an ‘impartial investigation’ into the case, “wherever it comes from”.
A senior PDP leader, who is also a Cabinet minister, told Firstpost on the condition of anonymity that the “cracks in the alliance are widening” due to the “prolonged and unnecessary delay” in the implementation of the ‘agenda of the alliance’, the governance agenda that was worked between the two parties by Drabu and BJP’s Ram Madhav in 2014.