PDP’s stark choices

The BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav held a meeting with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at her Fairview residence amid deepening rift between the coalition partners over the handling of the situation. However, Madhav refused to talk to media revealing that the things were  not hunky-dory in the coalition. Over the past two weeks, Madhav has made some very harsh statements on Kashmir, even justifying the use of human shield by the Army in crude terms of “everything is fair in love and war”. He has also advocated “utmost toughness” to put down the ongoing protests. However, unlike in the past, the PDP has chosen not to take these statements lying down. Senior PDP leaders have vented their outrage over the BJP’s callous statements. The party’s vice president Sartaj Madni and the minister for education Altaf Bukhari have in their respective remarks termed the BJP’s approach to Kashmir situation unacceptable. In his latest statement Bukhari has asked BJP to follow former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee  legacy on Kashmir. Bukhari also decried any pre-conditions for the dialogue with the separatists showing some deliberate attempt at re-assertion in the party.

However, as Mehbooba’s meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear, the BJP is in no mood to act on the Agenda of Alliance. In more than two years of the PDP-BJP coalition, none of the key agreements in the Agenda of Alliance have been fulfilled, nor has the BJP shown any inclination to do so in future.  Modi also rebuffed Mehbooba’s  request for a dialogue with the separatist groups. In her subsequent interaction with the media, Mehbooba said that the dialogue with the stake-holders in Kashmir can only be initiated once the situation was peaceful, a condition that attracted derision from the separatist and civil society groups in Kashmir.   

There is thus a growing disquiet in Kashmir about the delay in the execution of the Agenda of Alliance, and PDP’s passive resignation to the state of affairs. BJP, it has become clear now,  has no intention to meet its commitments in the agenda, which formed the basis of the ideologically  divergent 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 aggressively plied its agenda.

The pressing concern for PDP is not only how to deal with the worsening current state of affairs but how to restore its credibility which lies in tatters. And that can hardly be done by continuing in a coalition that has effectively reduced the party to playing a second fiddle, letting it only enjoy the power, not exercise it. What is more, the PDP has been complicit in this negation of the commitments made to the party and in its own decimation. The choices for the PDP are now stark: it has to choose either power or survival as a party which can speak with some political authority – albeit much of it eroded during the unrest last year.

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