Mehbooba to Meet PM Today as President’s Rule Looms

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Srinagar:  Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is meeting Prime Minister Modi on Sunday (April 23) amid growing clamour for presidents rule in J&K and heightening tension between alliance partners.

Mehbooba will be in New Delhi for a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the states where the BJP is in power or in a coalition. News agency IANS reported Saturday that, Mehbooba Mufti has sought a one-on-one with PM Modi to discuss the crisis in Kashmir.

Mehbooba is grappling with a fresh bout of mass uprising in Kashmir which has left at least 10 people dead so far and controversies stoked by the anti-Kashmiri statements by her alliance partners.

A statement by senior BJP leader and Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga, who said in Jammu that stone pelters were anti-nationals against whom bullets should be used has caused an uproar in the Valley with PDP trying hard to defend itself.

PDP Vice President Sartaj Madni went to the extent of terming the remarks as “intimidating and insidious”.

Madni said the BJP minister had contravened the decision of the state cabinet that had expressed anguish over the recent loss of precious human lives in the valley.

The BJP-PDP gulf widened further on Thursday after BJP General Secretary and point man on Jammu and Kashmir affairs, Ram Madhav, justified the army’s action of tying a youth to the bonnet of a jeep as a human shield in Budgam district.

Madhav justified the action by saying: “All is fair in love and war.”

Earlier things came to pass when an independent MLA from Zanskar constituency, Baqir Rizvi, hitherto a PDP supporter, crossed over to vote for the BJP nominee in the legislative council elections. This was termed “backstabbing” by PDP leaders, who, as a mark of protest, did not attend Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony of the newly-elected council members in the winter capital Jammu.

Mehbooba too conveyed her displeasure to the BJP high command over the “cross-voting” of the independent MLA.

A senior PDP leader was quoted as saying, “This is not good. We were elected on a joint plank and it would have been preferable for the BJP to talk to us directly instead of through the media.”

These developments have come even as student unrest after a military crackdown on a Degree College in Pulwama last week is sweeping Valley.

Also videos clips posted on social networking sites showing security personnel beating up students inside the college premises, besides similar videos of police brutalities has further diminished whatever support PDP was having.

Spontaneous protests broke out in universities, colleges and schools of the Valley over the Pulwama incident. For the last five days, teaching in these institutions has remained suspended.

In order to curb the unrest government has curtailed Internet services in the valley and was planning to ban popular social media sites in coming days.

With these developments, Mehbooba finds herself between the proverbial rock and a hard place where her responsibilities as the Chief Minister and those as a pro-Kashmiri mainstream leader ironically appear at loggerheads with each other.

The BJP, with its right-wing ideology, is finding itself in a situation where it believes softening of attitude towards stone-pelters and separatists in the Valley would seriously dent its “strong nationalist image” in the Jammu region and in the rest of the country.

Entrenched in their stated positions, can the BJP and the PDP continue ruling the state in alliance?

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