Once there was an Agenda of Alliance

If anything, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s dramatic decision to drop Haseeb Drabu from the cabinet has shown Mehbooba in a new light. She has come across as a leader who can take bold decisions, should she feel it is in the interest of her party. Though Mehbooba has been known to practice a very aggressive brand of politics when she was in opposition, in power she has appeared uncharacteristically tame and restrained. True, the power imposes its own limitations and the CM is expected to adopt a more nuanced approach. But when the issues of great ideological, political and existential significance are at stake, tameness takes an altogether different connotation. And in the past four years, J&K has been confronted with many of such issues. And the CM has often been found sorely wanted in its response, even though she might have so far largely weathered the storm.

Her party’s biggest failure has been its inability to get the BJP implement the mutually agreed Agenda of Alliance which formed the basis of the coalition government. 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 efforts to resolve the festering political problem in the state  but also on other important  agreements which had lent a facade of justification to this ideologically divergent coalition.

And the CM herself has been the worst victim of the bruising alliance. She has been a politician who built her support base brick by brick by plying soft-separatism as her political creed. She rose to power by appealing to Kashmiri nationalism. But if her term in the government is anything to go by she seems to have let go off this ideological narrative so effortlessly and even cheaply. The turn in Mehbooba’s brand of politics has left many people shocked, more so in Kashmir, her core constituency.

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.  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 and with an increasing belligerence. Now that the BJP Government at the centre is in its final year, the hope for implementation of the Agenda of Alliance is fading by the day.  And this state of affairs is not, in any way, good for the PDP. Going into next Assembly election without fulfilment of the any of the understandings with the BJP would undermine the public faith in any such common minimum programmes in future.



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