‘BJP Surprised PDP, Pulled Out From Alliance For Electoral Gains’ 

Sinha-led Concerned Citizens’ Group Report On J&K Also Sees BJP Taking Belligerent Position On Art 35-A  

SRINAGAR — The Concerned Citizens’ Group (CCG), led by former Indian Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, on Friday said its members believe that the manner in which the BJP masterminded the fall of the Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government had little to do with the situation in the Valley and had more to do with the party's calculation of how it might be able to come back to power in Delhi in the next general election. 

“Most Kashmiris also tend to think that the PDP was taken by surprise by the timing of the development -- Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was holding meetings in the State Secretariat, including one with the Centre’s Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma on June 19 morning when her fate was being decided in Delhi. Had she known what was coming, they felt, she herself would have withdrawn support to pre-empt the BJP and gained political mileage,” said the report, drafted by the group’s members, which include security expert Kapil Kak, journalist Bharat Bhushan, activist Sushobha Barve and WajahatHabibullah, First Information Commissioner of India and former Chairman of National Commission for Minorities. 

The Concerned Citizens’Group (CCG) undertook its fifth visit to Jammu and Kashmir from June 19 to 23.

The local perception is that the withdrawal of support was a part of a grand strategy of the BJP with an eye on the 2019 general election, the group said. 

“The BJP perhaps felt that by going along with the PDP, an impression was gaining ground that the party favoured secessionists and her policies were more focused on the Kashmir Valley to the detriment of Jammu and Ladakh.” 

The common perception was that the Narendra Modi government had nothing much to show case in terms of its achievements for the 2019 general election, there were no new fault lines emerging in Indian polity which could be exploited electorally – hence the fall-back option of using Kashmir to communally polarise the electorate in the state as well as the rest of India,” it noted.

The Kashmiris think that the harder the slap on their face, the better the electoral fallout in the rest of India, it added. 

It said that the perception of the opinion makers in Kashmir to the fall of the PDP-BJP alliance government is that there was a sense of relief in the people that the coalition had come to an end.  “The withdrawal of support had more to do with the BJP’s calculation of how it might be able to come back to power in Delhi in the next general election in 2019 and less with the developments in Kashmir. It was linked only marginally to J&K in as much as the BJP also needed to shore up its eroding voter base in Jammu. The party feared losing both the Parliamentary seats from the region in 2019.”

The Jammu Hindus might not be swayed by blaming all the ills of the state on the PDP and its leader Mehbooba Mufti. In the last state assembly election even those Hindu voters who normally did not vote for the BJP, voted for it because they were upset with the corruption of the Congress ministers, it said. “Having voted for the BJP, however, they find that the performance of the BJP’s ministerial team was even worse. Whether fanning communal sentiment alone can turn them in favour of the BJP remains to be seen.”

It said the performance of the BJP MLAs and ministers in the government was believed by many to be below par compared to their PDP counterparts. “They seem to have had little guidance from senior BJP leaders and resentment against them was growing in Jammu. It suited the party to cover their lack of performance under a communal umbrella.”

Regarding the security situation in the Valley, the groups said it was the same as it was three years ago – “there was violence from both sides, there was no dialogue and the Agenda of Alliance agreed upon by the PDP and BJP had become meaningless. There was also no change in the intensity and extent of the anti-insurgency operations of the security forces. The Mehbooba Mufti government never came in the way of these operations.”

It also noted that the Union government led by the BJP would now take a more belligerent position on the validity of Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution which was currently being adjudicated by the Supreme Court and scheduled for a hearing in August. “The BJP government in Delhi might also give up on the ambiguity it had to maintain on Article 370 because of the compulsions of its alliance with the PDP in J&K.” 

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