PDP rebels to help BJP form fresh government

PDP rebels to help BJP form fresh government
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Political tsunami coming to Kashmir, says PDP’s Imran Ansari

Srinagar: After pulling the rug from under the Mehbooba Mufti government, the BJP is stitching another alliance with Kashmiri legislators, many of them from the PDP, to form a new government. Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Lone is playing a key role in the machinations, sources privy to the developments told Kashmir Reader. A formal alliance is expected to be announced at the end of the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.
BJP national general secretary and Kashmir handler Ram Madhav met with Sajjad Lone in Srinagar last week, fuelling speculations of a new government in the making. Sources privy to the ongoing developments said that the BJP has the blueprint ready for government formation. Internally, the saffron party is implementing the plan cautiously and confidentially, so as to not allow it to falter in the initial stage. Party leaders are meeting political rivals and detractors to get them on board for a loose coalition of defected legislators who will help cobble together a new government.
Touted as an act of “political expediency”, the plan is akin to engineering split in National Conference in 1984 to dump Farooq Abdullah over his estranged brother-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Shah. That moment triggered political chaos and widened the trust deficit between New Delhi and Kashmir. Currently, the feeling in Kashmir is such a move will further erode trust, if any, between New Delhi and Kashmir. But those who are “willing” to join the new government are holding on to the belief that conducting elections would trigger a further crisis in the Valley.
“I believe in parliamentary democracy for the formation of government. It is numbers that matter. I feel that MLAs of all political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, except a few, are not in favour of polls. The threat of going to polls will make them (legislators) support any Tom, Dick and Harry,” said former minister and Democratic Party Nationalist chief Ghulam Hassan Mir.
The formation of another coalition government with the BJP would be devastating for the PDP, where resentment among legislators and workers has been growing ever since the tie-up with the BJP. Some time ago, a group of eleven legislators met PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti to warn her about “nepotism” within the party. That didn’t bring about the desired result, PDP legislator and Shia leader Abid Ansari said. “She (Mehbooba) just listened to us but didn’t act against her coterie of advisors, including Naeem Akhtar (former minister), Sartaj Madni (PDP vice president) and Peerzada Mansoor (PDP general secretary),” he told Kashmir Reader.
According to Ansari, he is ready to join the new alliance, which he called as “third front”, if it “uplifts his people and constituency”.
“It is not necessary to be with PDP. Third Front will be good for people. Bahut se log milenge to caravan ban jayega,” he said.
Another PDP legislator from south Kashmir, Abdul Majeed Paddar, said it would be “injustice” with people if elections are announced prior to the full six-year term. He expressed confidence that government formation would happen minus the Congress.
Talk of Congress legislators joining the new alliance gained currency after unusual activity was noticed in party circles in Jammu region. Rumours were that Congress legislators had been contacted by some “outsiders”. The party top brass quickly acted to keep its flock together.
“It is not the Congress alone but legislators from other parties including the National Conference and Independents who were contacted, and not everyone is demanding ministerial berth. They have different demands and everyone is being accommodated,” said a top source.
Imran Raza Ansari, the PDP’s Shia face, openly denounced his party for promoting dynastical rule and agreed that a new alliance for government formation will emerge.
“It will certainty happen. Political tsunami is coming to Kashmir and both NC and PDP will be eradicated. I will love to be part of it,” Imran told Kashmir Reader.
PDP MLA from Tangmarg, Mohammad Abbas, became the first PDP legislator to announce that he is quitting the party. Abbas is expected to hold on to his seat in the assembly so as to join a new alliance that will stake claim to form the government.
Many legislators who divulged details about the new alliance chose to remain anonymous. According to one such legislator, who appeared sympathetic to the BJP, the blame for messing up things in Kashmir should not be put on the saffron party. He spelled out some prominent measures such as the month-long ceasefire, appointment of interlocutor, Prime Minister’s development fund, as examples of the BJP’s sincerity. “The PDP miserably failed to gain anything out of it. The party is projecting itself is a victim, which never was the case,” the legislator said.
Imran agreed. He said the PDP “made a fool out of people”.
A PDP leader, requesting anonymity, set aside the criticism over dynasty rule saying that PDP founder the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had to field his family and relatives in 1996 elections because of unwillingness of people to contest at a time of peak militancy.
“That is how Mehbooba ji, Sartaj Madni or Farooq Andrabi came into politics,” he said.
Even though PDP legislators are now openly expressing anger to pave their exit from the party, the new alliance would formally come into being only at the end of the Amarnath Yatra, a source said.
The PDP is the single largest party with 27 seats in the legislative assembly. Sajjad Lone, who did not take calls from Kashmir Reader, has two seats in north Kashmir. In the new scheme of things, most of the PDP legislators would quit the party to support the Sajjad-led Peoples Conference. This includes some former PDP ministers as well. Amid that, the PDP would have to find a way past the anti-deflection law. But that won’t scuttle the plan, as past experience suggests: in the previous NC-Congress government, BJP legislators voted for the ruling coalition when electing legislators for the upper house.
The new alliance has worried mainstream political parties, especially the PDP. Naeem Akhtar, a veteran PDP leader and the Mehbooba govt’s spokesman, said that such an arrangement will throw Kashmir into “eternal turmoil”.
“It is a threat to political stability of Jammu and Kashmir. If this continuation of destruction of political parties continues, that will be end of politics in Kashmir. You will have to continue to govern Kashmir only through proxies. It has to be essentially Ikhwan Raj in Kashmir,” he said.