By Mir Iqbal Ahmad
Once known for the greenish hue of its flag, the PDP nowadays has mixed its colour with a saffron shade, perhaps solely to save the party from disintegration while leaving its voters and professed ideology behind. Before the assembly elections of 2014-15, PDP asked people for support particularly to stop the BJP and RSS from entering the state. It resulted in attracting pro-Kashmiri political quarters and, indirectly, some support from across the border, which afterwards Mufti Sahab endorsed by thanking the latter. In fact, it is believed to be one of the reasons behind the tremendous win of the PDP in the elections.
The election results turned the situation towards a different direction as none of the parties got a clear majority. However, the PDP was victorious in sense of polarising Kashmir against BJP and RSS while also getting an edge over the NC and Congress. On the other hand, the BJP was successful in polarising Jammu province, sweeping out all other political parties. It is believed that there was an understanding between the PDP and BJP before the elections and the game was played accordingly. Even mandates were allegedly given with a mission to divide Muslim votes in Jammu to benefit the BJP, resulting in the triumph of the PDP followed by the BJP, NC, Congress, PC and other independents.
There was also an option of a grand alliance as put forth by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the senior-most leader of the Congress and the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, which was outrightly rejected by PDP. Instead, PDP tied the knot with BJP for the sake of a ‘strong coalition’ with many justifications, without taking care of its pro-Kashmiri slogans during election campaigns throughout the Valley. This hypocrisy of the PDP was also called out by the Hurriyat and one of its spokesmen called the PDP a ‘jackal in goat’s skin’, underlining the assimilation of PDP into the BJP-RSS agenda.
Historically, the same mistake was made by National Conference when it went for an alliance with the BJP at the Centre, merely for the sake of a single seat for Omar Abdullah in the Union Cabinet. This was opposed by one of the most senior leaders of NC and then-MP in the Lok Sabha, Prof Saifuddin Soz, who later voted against the BJP and NC and toppled the then-BJP government by his single vote. Although BJP and NC didn’t part ways and instead went together for the next five years, it resulted in the development of different ideologies, which was proved in the 2002 state assembly election as NC was rejected by voters, getting just half of the seats.
PDP after the 2014-15 assembly election made the same mistake, even as it came out with many justifications. However, the way the BJP behaved shortly afterwards made it evident that all the justifications of the PDP were incorrect. After the death of Mufti Sayeed, there was a possibility for the PDP to rectify its mistake by discarding the BJP. Such an option was present, for Mehbooba Mufti is considered to be more pro-Kashmiri than her father. She could opt for other options as well, such as a grand alliance or a re-election, for which she even had support from inside the party. Nonetheless, she opted for the path chosen by her late father.
In the last two months, there was more drama as both the BJP and PDP were busy playing mindgames. PDP pretended to be bargaining for better government with new conditions for an alliance. Afterwards, one of its MPs clearly denied the possibility of any new condition and stated that the delay was a misunderstanding between the two parties. On its part, the BJP played its role in exposing the PDP. Consequently, the PDP bowed before power and re-stitched the alliance with the BJP without any real gains.
This renewing of the coalition has added fuel to the fire in Jammu and Kashmir, giving rise to many unanswered questions:
Did PDP lie to people since its emergence? Is PDP working as a sub-organisation of BJP? Is PDP being used by BJP to implement its pre-election manifesto? What about the promises made by PDP? Does this alliance endorse the thinking of people who believe that PDP was established with the support of BJP to counter NC in the state? If Mehbooba is believed to be pro-Kashmiri, why did she allow BJP to enter the state and why did she proceed with her father’s decisions despite having an opportunity to prove her stand? Why was the drama played out for more than two months if the alliance was bound to happen? Why was the state made to suffer Governor’s rule? How will Mehbooba face her voters in the next elections? Last, but not the least, has she taken the people of Jammu and Kashmir for granted?
All these questions have raised doubts about the PDP’s ideology and the flag they are apparently carrying. Some believe it to be a factual ‘ghar wapsi’, where others feel that the hunger for power has prevailed over principle and ideology. In both cases, the PDP has let down its voters and has chosen a path akin to what NC chose in 1999. And if the past is to be believed, then the PDP unquestionably and undeniably is on its way to decimation, which can start with the council and panchayat elections.
—The writer is a social activist