For BJP-PDP alliance to work, Mufti has to shed separatist traits
The BJP cannot allow the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister to contradict India's security and foreign policies.
- Total Shares
Delhi and Kashmir are bound to invite a critique of whether the BJP leadership had been sagacious enough in handling the strategic repercussions of steps taken to achieve certain political aims. In Delhi, the manner in which a new face was projected for the leadership proved too ad hoc to bring in any advantage. In Kashmir, the reliance of the BJP on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to run a first time coalition there has created an avoidable false start with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) veteran losing no time in giving the prime credit to Pakistan — as well as to the militants — for "allowing" the democratic process of Assembly elections to go on in the Valley.
Thus while in Delhi the BJP suffered a strategic setback out of a tactical move, Mufti Sayeed has put the clock back in Kashmir — on the day he was sworn in as the chief minister of the state — with the backing of the BJP. By arranging the release of Masarat Alam — a notorious separatist of the Valley — Mufti has already set out to implement his own agenda in Kashmir.
The effort made over several weeks to get a common minimum programme (CMP) for the BJP-PDP coalition has clearly been put on test and it has to be seen if it went short on making due diligence on the political persona of a leader like Mufti Sayeed who always thought of himself as an arbiter of Kashmir's destiny in the backdrop of the India-Pakistan dispute.
There is a possibility that Mufti’s gratuitous view of terrorists was rooted in fear but then in public life you can not subordinate the national cause to anything else.
It was presumed that the coalition in Jammu and Kashmir would work for the development of the state and abstain from indulging in any activities and policy proclamations that clearly went against the national interests. The BJP for its part had drawn a distinction between a debate on Article 370 of the Constitution and a decision on its abrogation, accepted an ongoing evaluation of the need and ways of continuing with the AFSPA, and maintained that the state had registered a steady democratic advance pushing back the threat of pro-Pakistan separatists.
Mufti has apparently taken the readings on the Kashmir situation back by a few decades. He has in the process not only sought to please the Pakistan Army establishment but also tried to weaken the case of India on Kashmir internationally.
The Centre must respond by correcting this distortion created by Mufti, as otherwise there would be misgivings about the reasons why India has revived the foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan in the name of consultations with the SAARC.
Mufti, it can be said, has not disturbed the apple cart for the coalition on domestic parameters of governance, but his deliberate advocacy of the cause of Pakistan on Kashmir in his first comments as chief minister shows his determination to rebuff any thoughts that embracing a nationalist party like BJP would make his party an instrument of Kashmir’s assimilation in the national mainstream.
Mufti’s assertion that as the head of the Unified Command he had the right to scrutinise the functioning of the AFSPA was quite in order as he did not refute the overriding role of the Centre in the matter of deciding how it will be operated in the Valley.
Similarly, his empathy towards the local elements of the Hurriyat could be deemed to be a part of his way of handling internal matters. However, what is disquieting is that Mufti has clearly tried to catapult the issue of Kashmir to the status of a tripartite dispute between India, Pakistan and the "Kashmiris". He must immediately be made to set things right by clearly and publicly reiterating that Kashmir remains an integral part of India.
The rationale behind the BJP-PDP alliance was that a national level party was joining hands with a regional political force to try raising the human development index of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
A coalition may not work between the nationalist party and the separatists, however, if the CMP is constantly breached by the latter on one pretext or the other. The Centre has to establish the finality of its decision in matters that directly correlate to national security: It should put militants like Masarat back into prison under the existing provisions of law and not allow anti-national acts to be confused with political activity.
The PDP has to shed its separatist traits to make the experiment viable. The BJP cannot allow the chief minister to contradict the security and foreign policies of the nation.
It would also be right for the Centre to advise Mufti to abide by the coalition’s do’s and don’ts before he does any further posturing against national interests. While the coalition lasts, the BJP regime must further isolate the handful of separatist leaders in the state and counter the apologists of Pakistan elsewhere with equal vigour.