A question of political credibility

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The biggest issue in Kashmir is the collapsed credibility of the mainstream political leaders. When J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, the only thing that piqued the interest in Kashmir was its potential fallout on the continuance of the PDP-BJP coalition in the state. And as the discourse in local media made it clear, very few people looked forward to the announcement of the talks, nor aspired for it, among them separatist and civil society groups. As it turned out, Mehbooba-Modi meeting has introduced no new dynamic into the situation. The coalition will go on regardless, even though BJP has done little to address the reasons of PDP’s unease, be it the poaching of a Council seat or its longstanding demand for a political outreach. The high-profile meeting has thus only reinforced the status quo, a major trigger of the prevailing troubled state of affairs.

Such is the state of apathy towards the political mainstream in the state that neither Hurriyat, nor the civil society, nor even people were curious about what transpires in the meeting PM Modi and CM Mehbooba. And Mehbooba didn’t help the matters either during her interaction with  the media.  Her pitch for dialogue was self-contradictory. On one hand, she said that the only way out of the present crisis was the dialogue and on the other she remarked that the dialogue will be held only after the peace returns to Kashmir.  She cryptically added that the peace will be restored in Kashmir after three months. How? Nobody knows. Will her government adopt a tougher response to the protests or be more accommodative towards the accumulated grievances. Again nobody knows.  

Chairing the meeting of Unified Headquarters on her return from New Delhi, the CM directed the security agencies to undertake youth counseling and ensure that no collateral damage takes place while dealing with day to day law and order situations. She specifically directed that culprits be brought to justice if found involved in harassing a community or a section of society in the name of a social cause. She also called the security agencies to prioritize youth engagement and not look at the trouble as a routine law and order issue. If anything, it shows that Mehbooba has been given some leeway to handle the situation. If so, it will become clear in the coming days. But this accommodation of her outlook on the situation shouldn’t remain limited to the law and order situation only.

There is a growing disquiet in Kashmir about the non-implementation of the Agenda of Alliance, and PDP’s silence about it. BJP has shown little inclination to meet its commitments in the agenda, which formed the basis of the ideologically antithetical coalition. At the same time while PDP seems to have gone quiet over its ideological agenda or entered into a sort of ideological and political trade-off with its alliance partner, BJP has more or less freely plied its agenda. The issue for PDP is not only how to deal with the worsening current state of affairs but how to restore its credibility which is in tatters. And that can hardly be done by continuing in a coalition that has reduced the party to a second fiddle, letting it only enjoy the power, not exercise it. What is more, the PDP has been complicit in this denial.

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