Time for Mehbooba to leave the coalition


Around one and a half month after PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti refused to take oath as new J&K Chief Minister following her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death on January 7, there is no sign of any government formation. Governor N N Vohra’s rule seems here to stay. The reason for this is that BJP has refused to either offer a credible assurance  on a good-faith implementation of the Agenda for Alliance or accede to Mehbooba’s demand for some Confidence Building Measures.  If BJP was honest about the common minimum programme it has agreed to put into practice, it would have made little secret of its commitment to the agenda. But the truth is, it hasn’t. And that shows an utter lack of good faith on the part of the party. It shows that the Agenda of Alliance is little more than a piece of paper for the saffron party which it had to sign to become a part of the state’s power structure. And over the ten months that the party ruled the state in a coalition with PDP, it showed little obligation to the spirit of the mutually agreed agenda. In fact, the BJP went back on all key points: from Article 370, through AFSPA to the return of power projects. As it is, the BJP’s inordinate delay to respond to Mehbooba’s legitimate demand for a show of seriousness about the Agenda of Alliance reveals the party has nothing to give to her. This should be an eye-opener to Mehbooba. Without wasting any further time she should pull out of the coalition and go back to people.  There is no other alternative. A coalition with Congress or for that matter even with National Conference has little going for them. Such ruling  arrangements will only deepen the political status quo and offer little in terms of the development of the state.  Going back to people is the best option for PDP – in fact, for both the parties. There is certainly a possibility of the surge of support in PDP’s favour.  And in that case, PDP could hope to garner around forty seats in the state, enabling it to form a government on its own with the support of a few independents, BJP in Jammu is unlikely to better its last performance, reducing it to playing its practiced role of an aggressive nationalist opposition party in the state.

Breaking the coalition is also good for Mehbooba. It will set her off as a leader who will have a far more credible claim to representing the grievances and aspirations of the people than all her mainstream political rivals put together. This is a historical opportunity for her: she has to make an uneasy choice between the power and the interests of her people. Sacrificing power and choosing later will certainly stand her in good stead. It will certainly win her the trust and faith of the people that all other mainstream leader since 1975 Sheikh Abdullah-Indira Gandhi accord. Mainstream politics in the state has since then become synonymous with compromise and corruption. One can only hope that Mehbooba rescues it from this dubious tag.


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