Goodbye BJP, Hello Congress

The relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Peoples Democratic Party is coming unstuck. Slowly, but as they say, surely. 

The basic agreement between the two was based on funds for the state, but given the central government’s reluctance the raison d'être for the alliance insofar as Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is concerned seems to have disappeared. 

One of the last, if not the last, straw on the PDPs back was the decision by New Delhi to pay the Army bill of Rs 500 crores for the flood relief operations from the niggardly amount released to Jammu and Kashmir for the disaster from which the Valley has still not recovered. The people remain traumatised. 

This has made it very clear to the Chief Minister that apart from policy differences, the finances that he had hoped to get through the alliance might also not be forthcoming. And as the sources said, that if the PDP does not even get the promised funds for governance, the alliance will be seen as ‘very costly.’ 

Relations between the two have soured dramatically, with the BJP making it very clear in the few months that it was going to pursue its own agenda regardless.The PDP is facing flak for the repeated assertions by its alliance partner against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has reiterated this again, along with the statement that there will be no talks with the separatists. For a Valley looking at dialogue as a step towards peace, this assertion has fed into the hopelessness and anger palpable in the region. 

Mufti Sayeed is being unable to influence the BJP that has decided to pursue its own path in the state. Significantly, however, the BJP that had wanted to expand its base in the Valley through sharing of power has not been able to do so. Sources said that despite placing the Valley under the charge of RSS functionary on loan to the BJP Ram Madhav, the party has been unable to expand its base in the Valley despite claims of an increasing membership. There is tremendous resistance to the BJP, which is also losing ground now in Jammu because of non-governance. The loud assertion by the party to ‘resettle’ the Kashmiri pandits in the Valley fell through, with the proposal of separate townships being opposed by all in the state as ‘unfeasible.’ Nothing has been heard of the move again, although it remains on the anvil, adding thus to PDP chagrin. 

The reading in New Delhi is that an election at this stage could unseat both the parties, with the National Conference and the Congress gaining ground as a result. The state government, despite its pre-election promises, has not taken any measures to prevent floods which remain an ever present nightmare in the traumatised homes of the Valley, and has not been able to give adequate relief and ensure the proper rehabilitation of the lakhs affected by the disaster last year. The deficit of trust in fact has grown, with the Kashmiris openly criticising the government for being unresponsive and inefficient. 

Significantly, the Congress has kept its offer of an alliance with the PDP on the table. The same was repeated recently by Congress state leader Ghulam Ahmad Mir, making it clear that the Congress was quite willing to shoulder the responsibility provided Mufti parted ways with the BJP. The PDP-Congress alliance will be short of the majority by just four legislators, but this shortfall could be met with the inclusion of independent legislators as well as CPI(M)’s sole MLA Yousuf Tarigami. The sources said that the possibility would remain ‘active’ thereby giving an alternative to the Mufti, against Presidents rule, if he chose to pull the rug from the under the present coalition. 

This alternative would thus, prevent a re-election or Presidents rule from being imposed on Jammu and Kashmir. However, as the sources said the chess pieces were being put in place, and while the game had begun, “it is going to take its own time.” However, given the fact that the government was formed amidst warm hugs and promises by both the BJP and the PDP, the sullenness and the distance has come in far sooner than expected. As the sources said, ‘neither is getting what they wanted, and that is always a recipe for disaster.’    ---The Citizen 

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