The PDP-BJP alliance in Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir seems to have been thrown into yet another political crisis following Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s order to the State police to register an FIR against a major and some jawans of the Indian army who had shot dead two youths who were allegedly pelting stones on the troops. The BJP is furious and some leaders of the party are openly asking for breaking the BJP-PDP ruling alliance and ‘topple’ the State Government headed by Mehbooba Mufti.
The alliance that the BJP struck with the PDP in Kashmir in April, 2016 to form a government (since no party could get a majority on its own in the State Assembly elections) was an unprincipled and opportunists alliance from the beginning. Unprincipled because the BJP did not share the PDP’s views on the causes of the Kashmir unrest and the sense of alienation of the people of Kashmir from India, the way to assuage the hurt feelings of the Kashmiris and initiate the peace process by bringing all the stakeholders to the negotiating table. There were differences between the two parties on who the stakeholders are. And opportunistic because it is only the greed for power that brought about such a marriage of convenience between two incompatible partners. The alliance is now coming unstuck.
If the BJP withdraws from the alliance and brings down the Mufti government, it will not bring the goal of peace in the Valley a millimetre nearer. In all probability, the situation will turn for the worse as the State will come under President’s Rule, giving a free hand to the Centre to deal with the situation in the way it has always wanted to.  In all probability such a denouement will strengthen the process of alienation further with all its concomitant and resultant consequences. What is happening in Kashmir has to be read in the wider context of what is happening in other parts of the country – like in Kashganj and Bidar. As a number of State Assembly elections and the Lok Sabha election come nearer at a time when all indications are that the Modi Government may not be able to retain its present strength at the Centre, the temptation to polarize the electorate and reap the maximum electoral dividends will be difficult to resist. One can only hope and pray that the top echelons of the BJP leadership will show the maturity and imagination that the present situation demands.

Sunday, 4 February, 2018