The CM on test

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and above all the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit to New Delhi. The three successive meetings over the course of two days make for an important development. Kashmir’s situation is such that the Chief Minister’s meeting with the Prime Minister acquires a political connotation that is disproportionate to the discussion of the issues of governance. The immediate political context in Kashmir also lent the meeting with the PM its significance. Over the past some months, the situation along the borders in J&K has progressively deteriorated. Loss of the lives of the soldiers and civilians has mounted on both sides. Border residents have been forced to migrate to safer areas. This forced Mehbooba to make a strong pitch for the talks with Pakistan saying the dialogue with the neighbour was necessary if the bloodshed and suffering in J&K was to end. She has argued how despite winning all the wars with Pakistan, the problem in Kashmir hasn’t gone away. Now in her talks with the PM, she sought to push the same discourse forward, telling the PM how the people in J&K had been suffering “immensely” due to a precarious situation for the past so many decades. She, according to the government statement, “has also brought into his (PM’s) notice the recent increase in violence along the borders which has forced thousands of people to leave their homes and hearths”.

The CM has sought de-escalation of the tension and the adoption of the path of reconciliation, “as envisioned in the Agenda of Alliance” of the PDP-BJP coalition, so that a durable peace is ensured in the state and the subcontinent. Incidentally, the meeting comes amid New Delhi’s renewed efforts at engagement with Pakistan. But it hardly means that Mehbooba’s pro-talks position is a factor in the centre’s seeming rethink about the relationship with Pakistan. As the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav has made it clear, Mehbooba can have her pro-dialogue opinion “but she cannot decide”.  Mehbooba, however, can press for the implementation of the Agenda of Alliance which she has once again done. It is in her success in taking the agenda to its logical conclusion that her leadership will ultimately be measured against. And in this mutually agreed agenda, the BJP had also specifically agreed to hold dialogue with separatist groups and Pakistan. But it now appears that the most of the common minimum programme was agreed in bad conscience. So far PDP has done little to hold its coalition partner to its commitments, not only in regard to the dialogue with pro-freedom camp but also on other important agreements which had lent a facade of justification to this ideologically divergent coalition.  Now that the government at the centre has just one year of its tenure left, people in J&K will  expect the CM to ensure the agenda is implemented in the remaining time. And the CM needs to ensure that it is done.





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