Time to get the coalition to work

Around three years after it was sworn in, the PDP-BJP coalition looks nowhere near living up to the expectations in Kashmir. In fact, in Kashmir, the experience has been the complete opposite. All the apprehensions, that had made people largely reject such an arrangement have come true. The hopes generated by the Agenda of Alliance have been bitterly betrayed. Hardly any agreement in the agenda has been implemented. And even in fewer cases where the steps have been taken to implement them, the intention behind them lacks the will. One such initiative is the ongoing political outreach to Kashmir through the interlocutor. If Dineshwar Sharma’s two visits to the state are anything to go by, the initiative seems more about form than the substance. As aptly summed up by the National Conference leader Dr Farooq Abdullah in a statement, in Jammu that  Sharma’s meetings with the irrelevant delegations won’t serve any purpose and that by doing this he was only “marking his presence”.  This will make little difference to the situation.

So, while apparently by appointing Sharma, the BJP is fulfilling its pledge of embarking on a political outreach to Kashmir, the move means very little on the ground. However, a political engagement with Kashmir is not the only count on which the coalition has failed to make a difference. the governance has been no good either. There has been no redeeming difference if compared with the previous government. The state government  has more or less gone on regardless. And one can’t but feel sad about this state of affairs.   Truth is for all its ideological divergence, the  PDP-BJP alliance did seem to be pregnant with some promise – if not in political terms then certainly in its possible development potential.  When the coalition was forged in 2015 following a painstaking negotiation of three months between the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav and the PDP leader Haseeb Drabu, it seemed to have some sense of possibility. People expected the coalition to be a continuation of the harmonious state-centre ties during the time of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. That period had not only witnessed the centre acting more obliging towards the development needs of the state but also some serious action on the front of resolution of Kashmir issue with Pakistan.

But once the coalition was in place with the late Mufti Sayeed as the Chief Minister, it didn’t take long for the possibilities to shrink and the optimism to unravel. First hope to be betrayed was expectation of an early flood package. It took the centre 14 months to release it. And as for the other commitments, centre didn’t even pretend to honour them.  This has had consequences, not only for the politics of the state but the governance too.  The PDP has been the worst affected. Its politics has been evacuated of any ideological, political or for that matter even a development role in Valley’s public life. There are three more years of the coalition left. To all appearances, the government seems set to last the period. There is still hope and the opportunity for the coalition to salvage its reputation. Here’s hoping it does.



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