Alliance that Wasn’t

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“Rethink the relations with BJP,” was the call from the senior PDP leader and the Member Parliament Tariq Hameed Karra. Karra spoke on the day the centre announced a measly Rs 1600 crore for the flood relief and reconstruction for the state. This has caused people to question the intent behind his observations. Karra, it is widely believed, made the remarks to offset the growing resentment in Kashmir against the meager rehabilitation aid from the centre. But quite apart from the political necessity of railing against BJP, Karra’s opinion reflects the general mood in Valley and hopefully in PDP too. Truth is that the PDP-BJP alliance is turning out to be the contrary to all it claims to stand for. One by one, the saffron party has reneged on all its commitments in the Agenda of Alliance.  Now in its fourth month, the coalition exhibited little hope of realizing its promise. Though it is still too early to judge the government, the coalition has clearly been off to a dismal start. 

PDP’s controversial choice of BJP as a coalition partner had received a grudging nod in valley in the hope  that only such an arrangement could facilitate early rehabilitation of the flood-hit and the restoration of the damaged infrastructure.  But that now hardly appears to be the case. Not only is the much hyped agenda of the alliance falling apart with BJP refusing to keep its side of the bargain, the BJP’s commitment to the rehabilitation of the flood victims has turned out to be a sham. 

 In response to a demand of Rs 44000 crore from the previous government, the centre has offered Rs 1600 crore – and that too ten months after the deluge sank Srinagar and large parts of South and North Kashmir, leaving a massive humanitarian fallout in its wake. Thousands of people have lost their houses, livelihoods and businesses. Our roads are in the worst state of disrepair. The state of our health and education is pits.  But there is little indication that the coalition has become a little more responsive, something that is at a stark contrast with the PDP-led coalition with Congress in 2002. The alliance then had begun on a dramatic note with a Valley-wide anti-encroachment drive which brought the administration immobilized by the reigning turmoil of the preceding decade back on its feet. The PDP-Congress went on to provide a governance redeemingly different from the fore-running National Conference dispensation, rife with corruption and human rights abuse. But now the situation is the reverse. 

 Negating the core rationale for the coalition, centre hasn’t been munificient with the financial aid, both for the flood rehabilitation and the day to day governance. But then governance is not the only worry. Starting with the separate settlement for Kashmiri Pandits or latter deciding to issue Permanent Residence Certificates  in schools or using India’s flag instead of state’s own flag, BJP has shown little regard for JK’s special status or paid any nod to its troubled present.  The party has shifted the debate away from the resolution of Kashmir to its integration into India, paling even the self rule agenda of its coalition partner into insignificance. Similarly BJP-led government at the centre has refused to move on AFSPA despite committing itself to examining its continuation in Common Minimum Programme. Centre won’t similarly talk to separatist groups, nor are there any signs that New Delhi will in the near future resume dialogue with Pakistan. So, the question that arises is how does this coalition benefit Valley. From governance, through politics to its fraught ideological dimension, the PDP-BJP coalition holds little promise.  This bleak scenario confronts PDP with stark choices. As revealed by Karra, “the  coalition seems to be doing more damage to both Kashmiris and the party.”  PDP needs to take a call on the alliance before it is too late for the party. There is now an ample case to second-guess the relationship with RSS.

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