Two senior PDP leaders Basharat Bukhari and Peer Muhammad Hussain have joined National Conference after being expelled from the People’s Democratic Party for “anti-party activities”. Earlier also, more leaders have quit the PDP to join Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference. This will certainly deal a severe setback to the PDP. The party anyway doesn’t appear to do well in the next Assembly and Parliament polls. The disastrous alliance with the BJP and the compromises with its core ideology during its recent stint in power has severely damaged its political standing in the state. This has become a factor in some of the leaders jumping the apparently sinking ship.
A packed political calendar looms large over the state with two elections, one for the state legislature and another for Lok Sabha, being held this year. At the national level, the country is already in election mode for the Parliament polls. In J&K, elections can be expected to alter the current political arrangement, most likely with National Conference taking the place of the PDP. There appears a bigger chance of an NC-led combine trumping the reigning anti-incumbency factor against the PDP. However, there is every likelihood that the BJP would by and large hold on to its seats in Jammu. In that case, a Kashmir based party with the largest number of seats will again be faced with the prospect of allying with the BJP to form the government. But considering the plight of the PDP, the NC will have a reason to be deeply skeptical of a tie-up with the Hindutva party.
However, it will be wrong to say that the BJP alone is responsible for the current beleaguered state of the PDP. The party had risen to power by appealing to Kashmiri nationalism. But it let go of this ideological narrative so effortlessly and even cheaply. The moment the party was in power, its quick unraveling began. For over three and half years that the PDP was in alliance with the BJP, it made every conceivable compromise to retain the goodwill of its recalcitrant alliance partner. It ceased to be a party which while being pro-India preferred to stand with the people in times of the crisis. It presided over the killings and blindings and brazened it out to stay in power. It didn’t even step down to side with people which is what it should have done in the wake of the 2016 crisis to retain the confidence of her people. This confirmed to Kashmiris as an article of faith that all that the mainstream parties sought was power. They hardly trust these parties but they elect them by default as there is no other option. To develop this trust is hard work. But one thing that can win it for them more than anything else is to remove the gaping dichotomy in their political stance in power and opposition.
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