The unnatural coalition in Indian-held Kashmir ended after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti belonging to People Democratic Party (PDP) resigned after a long spate of bickering.
Mehbooba’s move came shortly after the ruling Hindutva-dominated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced it was pulling out of its alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP pulled out of the coalition citing increasing terrorism, violence and radicalisation in the state that had recently claimed the life of syndicated Kashmiri columnist Shujaat Bukhari who also regularly wrote for Lahore-based weekly The Friday Times. BJP urged imposition of Governor’s rule in the state and termed it a necessary step to straighten matters out. The end of coalition is the ardent proof of gradually diminishing consensus space that has dimmed the prospects of any peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Hindus in the valley.
It was very well known that PDP and the BJP did not see eye to eye over New Delhi’s decision to end its Ramzan ceasefire with Kashmiri freedom fighters as the freedom campaign did not abate during the ‘large-hearted’ decision of the Indian government. BJP blamed Mehbooba Mufti government for not being able to fulfill its promises and castigated her government for creating hurdles in developmental works in Hindu-dominated Jammu and Ladakh.
The content of the governing alliance was so out of place that BJP took pains to justify this unnatural alliance between the two parties with differing ideologies that was agreed upon three years ago after people had delivered their mandate in general elections. PDP-BJP alliance however was insecure right from the beginning as both sides had different views on the method of handling the rising insurgency in the state. BJP had assumed the role of an all-India movement for restoration of Hindu majority rule and is completely indifferent to the political and social inspirations of other communities living in the country.
BJP accused Mufti government for failing to address the core issues in Kashmir primarily the security scenario that kept on deteriorating causing serious concern about the protection of basic fundamental right of life. They quoted the daylight murder of a respected editor Shujaat Bukhari in the heart of Srinagar city and termed it as an indicator of the worsening situation and the extent of radicalisation. Shujaat Bukhari moved with official protection but that did not prevent his grisly murder pointing out to the ascendancy of target-killings in the state.
Mehbooba Mufti was unaware of the machinations of the BJP till she was informed of the pull-out by the Chief Secretary of the state. She defiantly tendered her resignation and commented that PDP did not enter into the alliance for power and accused the muscular policy of Indian Union as the basis of all troubles. PDP was of the view that BJP wanted to appear holding a hard line on security for its base in Jammu and elsewhere in the country because it thought it was progressively seen as ineffectual. Moreover, PDP also was getting swiftly conscious that by toeing BJP line it was losing ground in the valley.
The electoral situation of Indian-held Kashmir is quite dicey as numbers in the assembly make it very difficult to search for an alternative. The 87-member house has 28 MLAs from PDP, 25 from BJP, 15 from National Conference, 12 from Congress, and the rest from smaller groups and independents. Despite the indecisive position of the assembly this is the first instance where a government has fallen owing to the aggressive designs of a minority. The situation has become so intractable that it is practically impossible to devise a solution to the endemic problems encountered by the state.
It is generally believed that the self-righteous ideological position of BJP is making situation untenable for other political groupings throughout India but the plight of the Muslim minority is the worst of the lot. Added to the ideological perversion is the opportunistic BJP stance that has set fire to J&K, killing many innocent people. The aggressive policies of BJP have made India to pay high strategic cost and have also destroyed years of consensus building efforts in Kashmir.
It is quite obvious that the situation will go from bad to worse during the direct rule of the centre. The situation has come to such a pass that even the Indian army chief is pleading for reviewing the militaralistic policies in Kashmir. Gen Rawat appears to be convinced that military solution to the problems in Kashmir is not possible and that India has already been confined to a blind alley. The chances of an agreeable political solution are fast eroding and it is no more possible to reverse the tide of freedom struggle.
Muhammad Rafique is associated with trade and industry