Governor’s rule is no solution

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Once again there is a growing chorus in a section of media that J&K is headed for a Governor’s rule. Unlike in the past, this time it is backed by some bitter public spat between the PDP and BJP. The reason for the fresh strain in the coalition goes beyond Ram Madhav and Chander Prakash Ganga’s statements. It traces itself to the BJP’s poaching of the PDP’s council seat after the latter’s leader, the MLA Zanskar Aga Syed Bakir Hussain Rizvi, voted for BJP. And the BJP legislator who was supposed to vote for PDP also voted for his own party. This was despite the fact that PDP had already helped BJP win two of the six vacant Council seats. The PDP was furious but it hardly mattered to BJP. Subsequent BJP statements which advocated more hardline approach towards Kashmiri protesters, even validating use of bullets and human shields only added to the strain.

In popular perception in Valley, the coalition has long lost its rationale. Adding to the PDP woes is the BJP’s bellicose Hindutva-inspired nationalism. While PDP, a putative soft-separatist party, plays up the fact that it stalled Sangh Parivar bid to repeal Article 370, BJP has moved the political discourse on Kashmir away from the resolution of the dispute to the integration of the state into India. BJP has also reneged on all its commitments such as the partial revocation of AFSPA and initiating dialogue with separatist group. Rising intolerance in the country and the attacks on minorities, have been a source of further discomfort.

However to address the growing rumblings within the coalition, the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav arrived in Jammu on Friday and held a closed door meeting with the PDP leader and J&K finance minister Haseeb Drabu at the BJP’s Trikuta Nagar office. BJP’s J&K in charge Avinash Rai Khanna was also a part of the meeting.

PDP over the past two years has come a long way from its soft separatist moorings. The PDP is no longer the buffer party straddling mainstream-separatist divide. Mehbooba, given her earlier political stance, has made drastic and detrimental concessions to adjust her politics to BJP’s expectations. She hasn’t even voiced any reservations about the centre’s security centric approach to the ongoing strife. Now break-up of the coalition seems both an unlikely and improbable thing to happen, considering it would lead to consequences unhelpful to New Delhi’s priorities in the state.    

In Valley, the general opinion is that the coalition has moved beyond the stage where it could have broken up. The two real threats to the coalition have already passed. One, when Mehbooba Mufti tarried for three months after her father’s death to form the government. And another when she didn’t step down immediately after 30 people were killed and scores blinded in the 48 hours after militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing. Now at this time, when it is completely discredited, PDP can’t even think of leaving the coalition. That is, unless BJP has other ideas. But choices for BJP are also limited. Devoid of an elected government, the centre’s approach to Kashmir would turn overridingly military in nature. And the military means, as has become clear over the past three years, has only further messed the situation up in Kashmir. The choice in Kashmir is not the coalition or its absence but how to address the deepening turmoil in the state. The coalition may not be doing any good but the Governor’s rule will only make things worse.

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