The inevitable has happened. There was scarcely a doubt that the PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir would collapse someday under the weight of its contradictions and the burden of its huge stockpile of failures on key fronts but who would pull the rug from under the other’s feet was a subject of speculation.
With general elections less than a year away, the BJP has withdrawn support to the Mehbooba Mufti government, leading to its collapse and the chief minister has formally submitted her resignation to Governor NN Vohra, paving the way for Governor’s rule.
An experiment that brought two diametrically opposing parties in a coalition has ended for now, arguably leaving Kashmir in a worse mess than there was when the coalition took charge a little over three years ago.
In all fairness to the BJP, the ‘unnatural alliance’ was dictated by the nature of the election results. While the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) won the largest number of seats at 28 in the 87-member Assembly, the BJP which won all its 25 seats from the Jammu region was a close second. The National Conference won 15 while the Congress got 12 seats.
The only way a viable government could have been formed was by the PDP and BJP coming together. In this manner, the Hindus who won seats in Jammu were represented in the government by the BJP which drew a blank in the Muslim-majority valley.
Right from the word ‘go’, the BJP complained that the valley was being pampered at the cost of Jammu and the Ladakh regions.
It complained that the Mehbooba Mufti government failed to contain militancy and radicalisation of youth in the Kashmir Valley. Mehbooba was soft on the youth who pelted stones at the security forces, even giving them amnesty when many of them were jailed.
The BJP decision to withdraw from the government came a day after suspension of the ceasefire in Kashmir Valley which was ordered at the behest of Mehbooba Mufti. Mufti is understood to have demanded an extension of the ceasefire. That escalated the row between the parties and led to the final parting of ways.
However, terror activities continued in the Valley despite the unilateral ceasefire. Rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua was a big dampener for the BJP-PDP alliance. The PDP was critical of the BJP being soft on the alleged party supporters of the accused. The local BJP leaders wanted a CBI inquiry into the incident while Mufti preferred probe by the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
The BJP leaders of Jammu and Kashmir are believed to have complained to the central leadership that Mufti was taking unilateral decisions in the matter of governance and the saffron party was not being given due importance.
The PDP and the BJP did not see eye to eye over the Centre's decision to end its Ramzan ceasefire with terrorists. The month-long ceasefire in the valley witnessed a spurt in terror strikes in the region. Noted journalist Shujaat Bukhari and Army jawan Aurangzeb were killed in separate attacks on the eve of Eid.
With the general elections approaching, the BJP was conscious that the electorate across the country would hold the situation in Kashmir against the party for failure to control terror and violence. It was felt that Governor’s rule could retrieve the situation somewhat for the party.
Governor Vohra was to lay down office on June 28 but in the circumstances, an extension for him may become imperative. It would now be vital to improve law and order and to pump in more Central money to win over the hearts of the people.
All-out efforts would be required to tackle militancy with a heavy hand while giving succour to the common Kashmiri. It would indeed be a hard grind, given the alienation of the people from the authorities. But it will have to be done.