BJP assumes power in Kashmir: PDP’s unholy alliance and betrayal of Kashmiris!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
- Quick poll and delayed government formation
People’s Democratic Party (PDP), after a few formal political gimmicks of discussion with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi, finally obeys the BJP high command, almost surrendering Kashmir to India once again.
The Jammu Kashmir state now finally has a coalition government. Mufti Mohammad Sayed-the patriarch of the PDP- after prolonged wait and almost endless deliberations with BJP in New Delhi for power share, especially with regard to offering Deputy CM post of BJP Hindu MLA as demanded by New Delhi, has just become the Chief Minister of Jammu Kashmir, once again. .
As the Kashmir Valley was witnessing mild tremors, two ideologically dissonant political tectonic plates met in Delhi, wrapping up an agreement to form a coalition government in Jammu Kashmir, after two-month long protracted negotiations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and People’s Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed sealed the deal with a hug for an alliance between their parties, altering the political landscape of the state. Emerging from an hour long meeting at 7, Race Course Road, Sayeed did not forget to give credit to Pakistan for the free and fair elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Sayeed spelt out his expectations when he spoke of the need to engage with Pakistan and taking forward Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s initiative.
Heading a BJP- PDP coalition government for the first time, the PDP patron Mufti has been sworn in as the new chief minister of Jammu Kashmir for the second time in Jammu, the summer capital of JK on March 01 amidst very tight security. Indian PM Narendra Modi reached Zorawar Singh auditorium of Jammu University for the oath ceremony of Mufti as CM and could have blessed him for a careful journey.
There will 12 cabinet ministers, 6 from each side and that Mufti will be the CM, while BJP’s Nirmal Singh will be Deputy CM in order to placate Hindu parties and leaders in India. There were “hitches” on some issues, including the specific offer of dialogue to Hurriyat. The swearing-in on March one in Jammu seems to have ended the two month long protracted negotiations which Sayeed admitted was a “war of nerves.”
Formally sealed the BJP-PDP alliance, it is the first time that the BJP literally forms a government in the LOC state of Jammu Kashmir, imposing all its terms and conditions on the hitherto pathetic looking PDP. (While PDP won 28 seats in Kashmir, BJP won 25 seats from the Hindu-majority Jammu region and none in the Muslim areas.)
JK CM Mufti also unveiled the Common Minimum Programme which advocates status quo in Article 370. According to Mufti, most important is to ensure development of people of the state. Mufti says if Army has unauthorised land, they have to return it to its lawful owner. Other issues discussed in the alliance framework were a joint approach on Article 370, accommodating refugees from West Pakistan, talks with separatists and confidence building measures to facilitate dialogue across the border.
In fact, the article 370 is has never been an issue, but blasted out of proportions by Indian and pro-India Jammu Kashmir media, since the BJP knows once the article is withdrawn India will have face serious legitimacy problem with almost every Kashmiri would like to cede from Indian Union. Despite fears of a last minute breakdown in talks, the BJP and the PDP have reportedly sorted out all difference in their negotiations to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir. The two parties have been in a dead-lock over the last months in the negotiations to form the next Jammu and Kashmir government. PDP’s Mufti Muhammad Sayeed met the PM in Delhi to put a final stamp on the alliance and also invited him for the swearing-in ceremony on 1 March.
The PDP claims it had demanded that the BJP should work towards restoring the original status of Article 370, which gives special status to the region, an assurance that the BJP had not given in writing. While PDP wanted a full assurance that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will be withdrawn, the BJP had instead agreed only to start the process that will pave way for the partial removal of the act. The army has of course not greeted this news well and senior military officals in Srinagar said that Kashmir still isn’t ready for the withdrawal of AFSPA.
However, analysts say all this was a pure gimmick to confuse the Kashmiris who do not want BJP-PDP movement.
Keeping in mind the “mandate” of the people of the two regions of the state and development, both sides are optimistic. A minister of state in the prime minister’s office said that the joining of hands of the two parties to form the government should be seen as a “historic opportunity”. He added that any other alliance would have violated the mandate given by the people.
Mufti’s daughter and PDP president Mehbooba said while talking to reporters in New Delhi: “Our agenda for alliance talks of development, economic growth and so on, besides political issues. Please wait till March 1, everything will be clear then”.
- Alliance of convenience
Deep uncertainties torment ordinary Kashmiris, both Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir as their own leaders remains untrustworthy. One may call the fate of Kashmiris perhaps the cruelest but the people of Palestine also suffer similarity if not more than Kashmiris. .
The strange bed fellows–BJP and PDP– who were political rivals in the run-up to the assembly poll and do not see eye to eye on issues like Article 370 and AFSPA, will now together run the government with a 25-member cabinet. This is the first time that the BJP will be in government in the state, where the two regions- Kashmir and Jammu– often clash ideologically.
Most Kashmiris feel let down by Mufti and Kashmir politicians by making the BJP the ruling party, saying this is not what they have voted for. “We voted to keep BJP out of power but the same BJP would rule us now”. The PDP-BJP dispensation will not necessarily be ‘historic’ in a positive sense and, in fact, it would most likely accentuate the Kashmir-Jammu divide because the state’s governance would be predicated on religious identity, not on civic needs. For the PDP, the alliance with BJP has not invoked much confidence from the voters of Kashmir Valley, where there is a feeling of resentment against the latter party.
Both Congress and BJP may think, just like former home minister Mufti does, the reduction of the conflict in and over Kashmir to governance and development would serve as the solvent of the conflict and Kashmiris would shed their ambition for either sovereignty or joining Pakistan and enjoy liberal values of India, including corruption and other forms of crimes so that they also could be called the modern democrats.
The reconciliation by dialogue and polls has not succeeded with various stakeholders. The elections, conducted very regularly in Jammu Kashmir for the sake of legitimacy for occupation and crimes, even when the environment is not conducive for them, have historically not been the solvent to conflicts. The conflict that has defined and marked the state of Jammu and Kashmir demonstrates no signs of progress and legitimacy, either.
What is perhaps required is a paradigm shift in terms of policy, politics and economics-that includes all stakeholders to the conflict in an idiom that is a departure from the past. A new paradigm requires smashing long standing customs and disturbing the status quo – a scenario that is likely to be hamstrung by coalitional politics and the different and differing ideologies of the coalition partners. Will the new government be able to institute a paradigm shift of this nature? The prognosis, as with everything about and related to Jammu and Kashmir is bleak. Keep all fingers crossed!
One gets the impression that Indians are occupying Kashmir brutally. True, Pakistan also occupies parts of Kashmir but there is no brutality involved, thus giving an impression that Kashmiris in Azad Kashmir have resigned to their crude fate. The option of going to India occupied Kashmir cannot be an option before them as they do not to want to face Indian brutality.
PM Modi still hopes he can do everything possible to integrate Kashmiris into Indian system, culture. So, he would try for peace in and stability of Kashmir. Historically and contemporarily, the condition that has defined the state has been that of relative peace and calm punctuated by spasms of violence and instability. This condition largely obtains from political maneuverings and manipulations that have been in the nature of fixes.
- Critical issues and observations
Indian PM Narendra Modi, it is reliably learnt, hugs those important who come up to save his prestige and image. He hugged US president Obama profusely a couple of times and now he did the same with same amount of warmth when PDP leaders went to his office on February 27 for inking a “historic” political deal with in Jammu Kashmir.
PDP’s decision to make BJP credible is meant to signal the freedom groups to forget their cherished ambitions as Pakistan is also willing to play for India in order not to lose Azad Kashmir and other parts Kashmir now in main Pakistan.
AFSPA and article 370 are not indeed the contentious issues between BJP and PDPD because both were parties to the decision of the central government to impose the extra military laws to deny any freedom to Kashmiris Muslims. But the PDP just smartly used these issues to impress the Kashmiri Muslims who overwhelmingly voted the PDP party the need for compromises with BJP for the sake of existence of Muslims in Kashmir. The PDP was in fact formed a t he instance of New Delhi to contain the NC. Party against Congress, BJP and even NC and PDP betrayed the Kashmiris Muslims while the BJP got an upper hand in the affairs of Kashmir now though the induction of another Hindu as deputy CM of the new government.
Politicians are cruel elements because they think they can fool the public by some pure gimmicks and get their things done by the peole themselves.
Elections and government formation are just routine events but do not address the multifarious roots and dimensions of the conflict over and in Jammu Kashmir. Elections have not solved the conflict and there is every possibility of recurrence of conflict in the state. The relative peace that currently prevails in JK state owes itself less to containment of insurgency, more to attrition and a generational shift.
There is no general “Will’ among Kashmiri Muslims are not harmoniously aligned; estrangement and alienation are the natural concomitants. The corollary is conflict and in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, functional integration. The integration concept of India as defined by the BJP and its allied parties, including its secret ally Congress, of the state with the broader Union goes against the essence of the nature, identity and nature of integration of the state with the Indian Union.
People of Kashmir cannot expect anything good to happen to their besieged and terrorized lives but they must guard against Mufti backed Hindutva operations across the state.
Nobody thinks Kashmiris would ever consider themselves as Indians and as such the new effort also will turn out to be a chimera.
Mufti will be heading a rather unusual coalition with the BJP. The unusual or even imponderable coalition was preceded by a huge voter turnout in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This was followed by a period when the state lapsed into Governor’s rule. Earlier, Congress party and national Congress tried through a coalition government with Hindu from Congress party as deputy CM, to make Kashmiris Indians first and Kashmiri next but failed. Now the BJP-PDP would continue the effort to finally ‘integrate” Kashmir into the Indian Union as per the plan of former rulers of India. .
Those Kashmir freedom fighting groups who want full sovereignty for their nation lost to India and Pakistan and those separatists who work through violence to add Jammu Kashmir to a badly destabilized Pakistan side should now realize their folly of poll boycott has benefited both Pakistan and India. By their thoughtless approach they caused immense problems to Kashmir Muslims- Hindus in Kashmir are state guests and protected by Indian government and Kashmir governor.
It is time for all those Kashmiris fighting for cause to wake, shed their pretensions and consider entering democratic process to achieve their objective by ruler of JK.
People of Kashmir have suffered a great deal for years since their nation became property of occupational military boots. There is strong warning to the PDP that its patriarch, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, will meet the fate of one of Kashmir’s tallest leader, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
When Congress as e well as BJP do not bother about Deputy CM, why are so stubborn about a Hindu being the Deputy CM of JK?
In the name of prolonged discussions with BJP, the PDP bosses in fact were fooling the Kashmir voters of the valley who are scared of Hindutva parties and their sponsors.
How stable the BJP-PDP combines will be, given the animosity between the two parties in the past, remains to be seen.