Why Mehbooba’s Conciliatory Approach And BJP’s Truculence Bode Uncertain Times For Kashmir?

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Srinagar: Soon after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urged the police to make part of the mainstream the "local boys" who have joined militancy, the BJP today said militants, whether locals or outsiders, "cannot be forgiven" and have to be dealt with as law of land demands. "A militant, who is responsible for the killing of innocent civilians as well as army and security personnel, besides being involved in picking up the gun against the nation, cannot be forgiven," Jammu and Kashmir BJP unit spokesperson Arun Gupta said. It may be stated here that the PDP and BJP are running an alliance together with both parties signatory to a document they call ‘agenda of alliance’.

A cynical take on the respective statements of Mehooba and the BJP is that they are playing the “good cop” , “ bad cop” game. In this schema, one player acts conciliatory and the other takes a tougher stance. But , this does not appear to be the case here. If this were the case then it would mean that the coalition partners see eye to eye on issues- especially that of militancy and strife in the state. By elimination, this then leaves us with the conclusion that neither party are on the same page regarding strife and militancy in Kashmir.

What explains Mehbooba’s statement and utterances then?

Mehbooba appears to be taking a mollifying and rather conciliatory stance towards the strife and militancy in Kashmir. This stance might be merely rhetorical and /or superficial aimed at various audiences in Kashmir. However, the alliance partner of Mehbooba’s party, the BJP, is in no mood for even conciliatory talk; they want to take a tough, hard power approach towards strife and militancy in Kashmir. There are broad inferences to be drawn from the divergence in approaches by the coalition partners. One, the coalition appears to be more in the nature of a marriage of convenience than a philosophical meeting of the minds. This means that while the coalition partners might come together to form the government, they will, in all likelihood, pursue different and differing agendas. For the PDP, it comes at a price. Since the party is ostensibly at the driver’s seat in the coalition , it gets to cop the blame for its omissions or commissions- especially in the centre of gravity of the state of Jammu and Kashmir-, the Kashmir valley.

Different and differing agendas also mean and imply power struggles within the coalition and cannibalization of government and governance to extract and draw political mileage and credit. While, this would, for appearances sake, mean papering over differences, but could potentially entail deepening of the cracks within. Whether this would affect the longevity of the government cannot be foretold precisely at this point in time, but what can be said with a degree of certainty is that all this bodes ill for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. A multi speed coalition which does not see eye to eye on issues could mean deadlock, conflict and a political grid lock that redounds negatively to the peoples of the state.

The challenge for the coalition managers would be to smoothen over the cracks and crystallize a working relation , at least, in the domain of governance for the welfare of the people. Will, the question is, this paradigm be forthcoming? Given the alacrity with which the BJP has decried and contradicted the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, at a delicate and sensitive time in the history of Kashmir with conflict in Kashmir assuming an intense hue and color, this seems unlikely. All in all the conclusions that flow are that uncertain times lie ahead for both the vale of Kashmir , in particular and the state of Jammu and Kashmir, at large.

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