Mehbooba Mufti’s dilemma

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Breaking first time her silence on the government formation, Mehbooba Mufti’s has put forward conditions for BJP before she agrees to the formation of the government. Speaking to press after her meeting with Governor N N Vohra, Mehbooba made it clear she doesn’t want only assurances from the centre on the implementation of the Agenda of Alliance but also the CBMs. This has complicated the situation only further. BJP though apparently desperate to form the government hasn’t offered the necessary concessions, something that has only deepened the deadlock. The stalemate is likely to continue unless there is an intervention from the top level BJP leadership at the centre.

By now, it is clear that PDP wants to reset the terms of the coalition, the reasons as is apparent from Mehbooba’s conduct is not entirely the pursuit of some material gain.  For Mehbooba, the reason is both personal and political. BJP’s approach to her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s demise has been way below what was expected of a coalition partner. Or for that matter what was due to a leader of Mufti’s stature. Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t visit him at AIIMS even though he was admitted there for fifteen days.  What is more, Modi didn’t even visit the state when Mufti passed away on January 2. It was the home minister Rajnath Singh who attended the funeral.

What rubbed it in further was the abysmally low attendance in the leader’s nimaz-i-jinaza. The general apathy in Valley, particularly the Srinagar, only further reinforced the impression of a social boycott of the funeral. In Kashmir, National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s funeral procession in 1982 had attracted  an unprecedented  two million mourners to Srinagar. In comparison, Srinagar wore a deserted look when  body of Mufti – once Sheikh’s vaunted political rival and a latter-day popular champion of the Self-Rule – was brought back from New Delhi.  This must have certainly pained Mehbooba.

But the most hurtful for her would have been the royal ignore of BJP. For it was for an alliance with this party that Mufti had stuck his neck out. He had staked his entire political career to choose BJP over the competing Congress and National Conference. And he had stuck with the party despite the consequent depletion in the party’s support base  in Valley. He even praised the PM and certified him as secular even when the intolerance discourse in the country was at its peak and Modi hadn’t spoken against the Dadri incident. Besides this, Mufti’s own stature as a significant Kashmiri leader who had also been active on the national scene for a great length of time deserved some recognition at his death. 

In past, Mufti had played many an instrumental part in deepening Kashmir’s bond with New Delhi. And in the end all this pivotal role, and which for the better part of his career cost him his popularity and support in Kashmir seemed to have come to nought. On the contrary, Congress or for that matter any other secular ruling combination at the centre have sensitively handled such occasions. Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited the family twice, first going to AIIMS to enquire about Mufti’s well being and then visiting Valley following CM’s death. All these things must be weighing heavy on Mehbooba’s mind while deciding to resume her coalition with BJP.  And given saffron party’s conduct over the past ten months and its insensitiveness towards her father’s death, she would be justified to stand firm on her demands and if these are not even go ahead and quit the coalition.

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