By MUZAFFAR SHAHEEN
It is quite obvious by now that the demise of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed left behind a political uncertainty which remains unpredictable even after the lapse of several weeks. The agenda of alliance (AOA) supposed to be the minimum charter of political dispensation between the PDP and BJP seems to have vanished. In the changed post-Mufti political situation, many rumours are rampant and several ideas have been floated regarding the framing of a new coalition government in the state. It seems that serious discord between the partners in the previous government is gaining impetus, particularly on the issues of ministerial portfolios and perhaps rotational chief ministership. It is presumably also coming to the surface that the PDP is thinking about parleys with the Congress. The probability of government formation in the near future is still something that analysts are poring over. The only thing crystal clear is the National Conference’s eagerness for fresh polls to be announced.
There is a general urge among the masses in Kashmir that no further concessions must be shown to the BJP. PDP voters might be thinking that the formation of a government with the BJP isn’t advisable any longer. This has further encouraged some disgruntled PDP members who were not happy with the high command’s decision of aligning with the right wing BJP. Mehbooba Mufti has time and again been warned of political disasters for the PDP if the alliance was allowed to continue. There seems to be a dilemma of considerable magnitude within the party’s ranks. But it is clear that Mehbooba has shown maturity in not making a hasty decision and allowing pros and cons to be scrutinised. On the other side, the BJP seems to be not in a mood for compromise and is perhaps adamant on its demand to alter the agenda of alliance, though it must be fully aware that the present political logjam might propel the formation of a new coalition government in the state, ushering them back into the opposition. If this situation arises, the BJP will have to cut a sorry figure for its misadventures which dominated the government during the past several months.
It is said that politics is the art of possibilities. This was what was explored by the late Mufti by making an alliance with the BJP. Many people were taken by surprise when he joined hands with the BJP; with some party members being opposed to the tie-up. The late chief minister, perhaps after seeing the BJP at the helm of affairs in New Delhi, went along with the alliance for reasons of central assistance in alleviating the state’s financial situation and the sponsorship of centrally aided projects and maybe even the return of power projects to the state – which is a much hyped issue. This was also viewed as an attempt to preserve J&K’s political integrity by taking Jammu’s representation aboard. However, time is the best judge of experiences.
Many senior PDP members who were already disgruntled by the alliance with the BJP have now emerged more vocally against it. Keeping in view the BJP’s political misadventures, the pursuit of its political ideology and its high-handedness in dealing with the state government issues, it can be argued that such alarm was inevitable. The PDP started realising that the experiment of allying with the BJP failed to usher results in accordance with Mufti’s vision. But reneging on the promise of continuation of the PDP-BJP alliance might also send wrong signals. It might be construed as being tantamount to abandoning Mufti’s accord, which he had entered into with due consent from party ranks and might also reveal the intrinsic failure of the visionary experiment.
If Mehbooba Mufti continues the alliance with the BJP in order to uphold the notion that the late Mufti decision was irreversible, it would not be less than a catastrophe for the PDP. On the other hand, the state BJP has not left any stone unturned to mar this alliance with a secular party. Its nefarious policies and anti- Kashmir stance have possibly left it bereft of future prospectus. Unfortunately, it sowed seeds of discontent and disharmony between the regions of the state, otherwise facing common problems to be redressed by the elected government. In many domains, the BJP failed to address the issues of the people of Jammu, who voted it into power, even though the BJP seemed to be set on making the government Jammu-centric. Many issues, such as the beef ban, VDCs, issuance of permanent state subject certificates and the state flag were over-aggressively dealt with and concerned quarters in the government were silenced. Issues were replaced by non-issues. Charged with the enthusiasm of having come to power for the first time in the state, the BJP indulged in political misadventures. Seemingly, the BJP will now be a loser in coming days.
For the National Conference, it is vital that the present deadlock should prevail for more time till the state legislative assembly is dissolved and fresh polls are announced. Keeping in view the marred PDP-BJP alliance, the NC would not take the risk of allying with BJP, even if offered unconditional support by the latter. Fresh elections would provide it a platform to exploit the PDP’s alliance with the BJP. However, a new alliance of PDP with Congress and some other independent MLA’s would be disappointing for it. Sure, politics is possibilities, but the only exception is a PDP-NC coalition, at least in the present political scenario.
The PDP leadership must have no illusions that in the wake of a partnership with the Congress certain difficulties are sure to surface, particularly from the BJP which would try its best to make people in Jammu feel betrayed. They would also portray it as a breach of the accord with Mufti. There is every possibility that Modi would also play a role in this. But even if coming days see the PDP in an uncomfortable position, the future of the party is more important. The option of the dissolution of the state assembly and early elections is not a remote one.
—The writer is a senior associate professor