SRINAGAR: The BJP pulling out of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir has virtually grounded Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has lost power, its soft-separatist image and stronghold in south Kashmir. The BJP’s move is a major setback and embarrassment for the PDP as they can neither claim to be a victim nor a “political martyr”.
The PDP missed many opportunities to gain lost ground by giving up power to become a “political martyr”. It might have been thinking of doing so at an “appropriate time” but the BJP played clever and snatched this “face-saving” move from Mehbooba.
There is speculation that the PDP may see a split and dissension as some party leaders were against the alliance with the BJP and there are some disgruntled leaders who may disassociate themselves from the “sinking ship”.
The alliance of the Muftis with the BJP was seen in Kashmir as a compromise of the PDP’s ideologies and principles for gaining power, as in 2014 the party had contested the Assembly elections against the saffron party.
But the PDP, which emerged as the single largest party in the 87-member J&K Legislative Assembly with 28 members, took a U-turn immediately after the declaration of poll results by starting to back-channel talks with the BJP, which emerged as the second largest party with 25 seats, to form the coalition government in the State. After two months of negotiations, PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took over as chief minister on March 1, 2015.
The alliance was seen as a betrayal, particularly by people in the PDP’s stronghold of south Kashmir.
Ever since the PDP-BJP coalition assumed power, there has been some kind of turmoil in the Valley. The situation took a bad turn after the killing of terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
Instead of following the PDP’s “healing touch” policy, Mehbooba went for the military approach, and as a result about 100 civilians were killed and many injured in pellet firing by security forces during the unrest in Kashmir in 2016. Now it would be difficult for the PDP to regain its base in south Kashmir.
Destined to fail
The PDP-BJP coalition was termed as the coming together of north and south poles because of the parties’ different political ideologies.
The two parties had different views on Article 370, talks with separatists and ground situation in Kashmir.
The opposition parties had dubbed it an “unholy alliance”.