Chief Minister Mehbooba in an interview has urged centre to start a political outreach to Kashmir, now that the shoots of peace are sprouting” in the state. She also welcomed the recent attempts by the Centre and the ruling party to reach out to Kashmiris, starting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech where he said that the Kashmir problem will be resolved only by embracing Kashmiris and not by abusing them. She urged New Delhi to take the bull by its horns and find a way out for bringing in a ‘permanent’ peace in the state. She also revealed that she was in regular contact with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, whom she described as “very supportive”. Mehbooba reiterated her statements about how Prime Minister Narendras peace gestures towards Pakistan were not reciprocated.
True, in recent weeks, a mild shift has been in evidence in centres approach to the state, beginning with the PM Modis August 15 speech. Ever since the home minister Rajnath Singh and the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav have talked in terms of holding talks with separatists while staying short of approaching them directly. But the dialogue with the separatists is the least problem that the PDP-BJP coalition seems to be facing in the state. And even if this dialogue is held it will be the result of the centres own considered opinion, not because the PDP has piled pressured on BJP or persuaded it to do so.
The coalitions problems are far bigger. Its challenge is to live up to its ambitious agenda delineated in the Agenda of Alliance, a result of the painstaking negotiations spanning several months enabling the two parties to work out a trade-off of their respective political positions. But the reality is that more than three years that the coalition has been in power, the saffron party has reneged on all its local commitments like the revocation of AFSPA, return of power projects, to say nothing of initiating dialogue with the separatist groups and Pakistan. BJP has also moved the political discourse on Kashmir away from the resolution of the issue to the integration of the state into India.
The alliance is likely to go on regardless, much like the way it has so far. However, as things stand, the PDP has been at the receiving end of the coalition. The party has seen complete erosion of its support base in Kashmir. The BJP, on the other hand, is in a win-win situation as being in power at the centre enables it to be in charge of the governance of the state too. The coalition has so far been a singular failure in the state. The agenda of alliance which formed its basis lies in tatters with BJP-led government at the centre refusing to act on its key understandings. The need for the two parties, thus, is to get their act together and rededicate themselves to the implementation of the agreements that formed the basis of their coming together. Devoid of its purpose, the coalition has only presided over the progressive deterioration of the situation. The CM, therefore, should hold the BJP to its commitments in Agenda of Alliance and seek their implementation without further delay. With the coalition government already more than three years old, there is no time left to further postpone the execution of its mutually agreed programme.
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