Will Mehbooba go Mufti's way in shaking hands with BJP?

Naseer Ganai
Naseer GanaiJan 09, 2016 | 21:21

Will Mehbooba go Mufti's way in shaking hands with BJP?

After the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) formed a coalition government in March 2015, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti remained silent for several months giving credence to rumours that she had reservations about the alliance.

In spite of having unconditional outside support of the National Conference and offer of an alliance from Congress, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed chose to form an alliance with the BJP saying the PDP had no alternative, given the mandate of people.

The argument PDP gave in support of the alliance was that it would be akin to going against the mandate of Jammu which had overwhelmingly voted for the BJP. The PDP argued that it would be easy to work with the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi than the Congress, which, according to them, had a history of deception and backstabbing its allies in Jammu and Kashmir.

The PDP insisted that any alliance of the PDP other than the BJP would give a fillip to communal tension in Jammu region. The PDP had hoped that after the coalition, the Centre would be generous in providing funds to the state government to carry forward its development programme and to rehabilitate flood victims.

After the two months of discussions and deliberations, the unsigned "Agenda of Alliance" between BJP general secretary Ram Madhav and PDP leader Haseeb Drabu had promised a lot for the PDP. It initially seemed that the PDP, as a regional party, achieved much more as the agenda of alliance talked about Centre-state relations in detail. It had a separate development agenda and it made the BJP comment on the political process to be initiated in Kashmir.

The Agenda of Alliance put Article 370 in deep freeze but the BJP kept harping on its revocation with none of its leaders clearing the party’s position on the petitions filed against the revocation of Article 35 (A) in the Supreme Court and Article 370 in Delhi High Court.

Incidentally, it was the BJP's affiliates who pleaded the case for beef ban in the state high court, in spite of a law prohibiting cow slaughter and sale of beef in J&K leading to a crisis in the state in October 2015. And recently it was the BJP general secretary who went to high court against the court's order that had called for honouring the state flag.

In both the cases the state BJP was the party.

Even though the Agenda of the Alliance or the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) mentioned a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders irrespective of their ideological views, on ground the separatists were kept in continuous house arrest. In fact, one of the leading separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat was arrested immediately after his release.

The much awaited package for the flood-affected came too late in November with all stakeholders saying there was nothing for the affected in the prime minister’s Rs 80,0000-crore package.

Though the CMP conceded that both parties have historically held a different view on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the need for it in the state at present, as part of the agenda for governance, the CMP said, the coalition government would examine the need for de-notifying "disturbed areas".

"This, as a consequence, would enable the Union Government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas," the CMP reads.

The AFSPA becomes applicable in any area only when it is declared disturbed under Section 3 of the Act. The Act is not practically in force in Ladakh region as the state government has not notified Ladakh as disturbed.

On the ground, BJP leaders openly supported the AFSPA and opposed its revocation. One of the major issues in Jammu and Kashmir for the past ten years is the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC). Such is the distress with NHPC that, in Omar Abdullah’s government, Congress minister Taj Mohideen had described it as the East India Company.

Both National Conference and PDP have been demanding the return of power projects from NHPC to the state. The NHPC has rejected these demands.

With the CMP saying in order "to address the real source of J&K’s fiscal problem and pave the way for making J&K a fiscally autonomous state, the State Government will work with the Union Government to explore modalities for transfer of Dulhasti and Uri hydro power projects to J&K as suggested by the Rangarajan Committee Report and the Round Table reports, to secure a share in the profits of NHPC emanating from J&K waters to the state government, to revise all royalty agreements,'' it was expected everything will change in power sector.

But things seem working in reverse direction in power sector. So much so that the Union power minister Piyush Goyal ridiculed the whole state government over the demand of return of the power projects to the state during his visit to Srinagar rendering the Agenda of Alliance a mere piece of paper.

Mehbooba Mufti, however, has an advantage as she has seen the Agenda of Alliance and its application on the ground as well. She has all options available and also a deep understanding of working with the BJP in these eleven months.

Some PDP leaders argue that after forming the coalition with the BJP, the PDP had to pay a huge price as both the parties are ideologically different. Thus, in these eleven months the PDP maintained silence over its political goals of self-rule and demilitarisation.

The PDP leaders also argue about Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s decision to go with the BJP was his conscious decision for integration of the state as there was no other alternative to him.

Now it would be the second time in 11 months when the PDP has to take the "conscious decision" yet again. Whether it would go with the BJP or look for alternatives, which are now available, would be seen in the coming days.

Last updated: January 11, 2016 | 15:34
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