Onus on BJP

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A month on from the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s demise, J&K is without an elected government, something that has been a source of increasing exasperation for the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. In a statement, Omar has called on PDP to either “break up the alliance with BJP or clear her party’s stand”. However, there is little evidence that the state is headed towards an imminent formation of the government.The stalemate between PDP and BJP is  set to continue for some more time.And the reason for this is not that Mehbooba Mufti is holding her ground on the question of the implementation of the Agenda of Alliance but BJP has done little to assure her that it actually is serious about the agenda. So far no serious effort has been made by the saffron party to end the deadlock.

Over the past ten months in power, BJP has exhibited little recognition of the tough political balance that a Kashmiri mainstream party has to make between New Delhi and Srinagar to stay relevant. Buoyed by its first stint in power in a state which has been its longstanding pet ideological pre-occupation, and hopped up on its rule at the centre, the party couldn’t resist tinkering with the fragile political system of the state. Within the first few weeks itself, the party made it clear that it will not be hemmed in by the framework of the Agenda for Alliance or be obliged to follow the necessary political and ideological trade-off for the sustainability of the coalition.  Losing no time, BJP brought contentious issues into play – refusing prospect of an otherwise agreed gradual revocation of AFSPA, tacitly backing a systematic legal assault on Article 370, wilfully enforcing the beef ban in a Muslim majority state, declining to honour the state’s constitutionally mandated separate flag etc. Worse, far from pursuing the long term goal of the resolution of Kashmir issue, BJP swiftly shifted the discourse towards the full integration of the state into the country by systematically divesting it of its special constitutional safeguards.

This was done with little acknowledgement of the Kashmir’s familiar political and social faultlines and which as a result tripped in quick succession. The lingering political conflict over the state only added to the troubling fallout.

And since the current deadlock began, BJP has not shown itself inclined to give Mehbooba so much as a rhetorical concession on issues of economic and political concern to the state. If anything, this shows that the saffron party hadn’t signed the Agenda of Alliance in good faith.  It seems to have been little more than a formality to get PDP to form the government. This is why after the government was formed, BJP did little to enforce the agenda, not even make a start somewhere. More so, when the only reason for the two parties to come together was to gain some concrete political and economic favours for the state. But instead BJP has sought to pursue its own dubious ideological agenda for the state which slowly nibbled away at the PDP support base in the state. Now as BJP silence on the implementation of the parties’ agreed agenda would have us believe, the saffron party seems to have not been sincere at all. Let alone CBMs, the party has held out no credible assurance either.This makes Mehbooba’s stand all the more relevant. Onus is not on her but her coalition partner to rescue the coalition.

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