The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) vice president Sartaj Madni issued a terse statement in response to ally Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) President and legislator Satpal Sharma’s assertion that the decision to isolate pro-freedom Hurriyat Conference has been taken at highest level in New Delhi.
Madni makes himself believe that this assertion could be untrue because the PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir since March 2015 is based on a roadmap called Agenda of Alliance that, inter alia, underscores need for engagement with all stakeholders including the Hurriyat Conference.
The two statements not only reflect the diametrically opposite outlook of the ruling parties but also highlight the dilemma that the PDP is grappling with. Every incident happening in Kashmir, from law and order situation to the political developments and manoeuvring, the ruling party is finding itself in tougher spot.
Madni said that holding dialogue with separatists and Pakistan is envisaged in the Agenda of Alliance and there was no scope for volte-face on this issue. The response in itself is an admission that there is volte face on this critical issue but Madni wants the people to believe that such was not the case. It hardly matters what Madni retorts but fact of the matter is that there is no dialogue going on between the pro-freedom leadership and the Government of India, leave alone the dialogue process between India and Pakistan.
Madni castigated the BJP’s state and national level leadership for discounting dialogue with Hurriyat and Pakistan saying ‘it doesn’t serve the people’s interests’. He also described dialogue without Hurriyat as meaningless.
On the face of it, the ruling party leader is being bold to confront the all-powerful alliance partner. However, the fact is that the retort is not more than rhetoric and a public exhibition of the PDP’s dilemma. On one hand, the party has accepted and is living with the reality that BJP leadership in New Delhi is not budging from its agenda on Kashmir, to isolate the dissent voices and suppress them with each and every method that can be thought of.
Is it not the PDP government that has put curbs on the separatist leaders to the extent that they are not allowed to deliver weekly sermons in mosques or release a book in front of a select gathering? Is it not the PDP government that issued the order to ban social networking sites and software applications of communication and also endorsed and enforced a central directive to ban non-Indian television channels? Madni says that the very idea of closing the doors of reconciliation and understanding on vital political issues undermines the peace process. One wonders what peace process he is talking of when the doors have been closed for inter-personal dialogue and communication, leave alone the vital political issues.
The mere statements cannot regain the ground the ruling party boasted of during its formidable years when it spoke of reconciliation and dialogue and it had some ground-breaking impact as well. The alliance with powerful BJP has reduced the PDP to play second fiddle and it is difficult to change this status by issuing resentful statements.