Coalition Here To Stay

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Contrary to the growing chorus in a section of media that J&K was headed for a Governor’s rule, the reality has turned out to be the exact opposite: the coalition is here to stay. At least for three more months, as Mehbooba has herself apparently let on in her interaction with the media following her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

 

Despite all its ideological divergence, the one overriding advantage that goes in favour of the the PDP-BJP alliance is that it is also the only pragmatic ruling dispensation, J&K could have under the circumstances. And far from being a bar to the hardening security response to the runaway upsurge in Valley, its existence disguises the toughness of the approach.

 

This perception is shared across the state too. The utility of this coalition, the argument goes, is not only with reference to the current strife but also for its own sake.  Although ideologically antithetical, the alliance is historically significant and predominantly to the political advantage of the BJP than to that of the PDP.

 

For one, the alliance has enabled a Hindutva party to rule India’s only Muslim majority state, first time since 1947, something that was unthinkable until the 2014 Assembly polls. J&K has been at the heart of the BJP’s nationalistic agenda. The party has always privileged assimilation of J&K into the Indian Union against the resolution of the festering political problem in the state with Pakistan, a stance that seems to have currently backfired with Valley once again going up in revolt, now led by students.

 

In fact, Mehbooba has hardly been an impediment to New Delhi’s harsh approach to Valley. Her statements over the past two months – conspicuous for her tough stance against the protesters and their alleged handlers, including Pakistan – has exhibited an alignment between the two parties in their approach to the current crisis. 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.

 

On the face of it this hardly should give a cause for concern for the survival of the coalition. And BJP would also unlikely break it up if all this is going to do is to pass the responsibility of improving Kashmir situation entirely to its shoulders. And then should things go wrong as appears highly probable, it will have itself to blame.

 

As things stands, after the landslide in UP and Uttarakhund, the BJP’s star is again in the ascendant. The coalition with PDP enabled it to democratically rule the Muslim majority state. The party has always harboured an ideological agenda on the state that seeks to divest it of the remaining constitutional safeguards. Besides, Kashmir is vital to its politics at the national level as the party has often used the situation in the state to its political advantage.  The loss of  the state government would deprive it of this advantage. So, the coalition faces no immediate threat, unless the PDP which has been at the receiving end of the alliance so far gives up. But that again seems unlikely to happen. 

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