New Delhi: It was in February 2015 that former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir, the late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, said that the alliance between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the meeting of the North and South Pole. Cut to 2018, the BJP on Tuesday, announced that it was pulling out of the alliance with the PDP because it had become “untenable”.
During the campaign before the 2014 elections, the BJP and PDP had pitched themselves as each other’s rivals. While PDP said a vote for them would mean BJP was out and the latter called the government a “baap-beti sarkaar”. They still came together a year later which is when fissures in the alliance started to come to the fore. After taking oath as CM of the coalition government, Sayeed thanked Pakistan for allowing the elections to be conducted in a peaceful manner. The statement, of course, did not go well with the opposition and Sayeed soon became the persona non grata for BJP.
The alliance hit a low point in 2016 when the state saw massive protests following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The valley had practically been on the edge and witnessed several instances of violence. Earlier this year, the PDP reportedly threatened to pull out of the coalition over the issue of two BJP ministers rallying behind the Hindu Ekta Manch, which was, in support of the accused, demanding a CBI inquiry into the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district. The BJP had asked both the ministers to resign from cabinet.
A highlight of the alliance was Article 370, which the PDP said “will not be touched” and even said that the BJP had agreed to the same. However, state BJP leaders have said time and again that the special status of J&K is not “a sacred cow who cannot be touched”. Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, meanwhile, went as far as to state that “there will be no one in Kashmir left to shoulder the tricolour” if J&K’s special status was meddled with.
The terms of engagement as part of the alliance included enhanced people-to-people contact on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). The BJP-ruled central government has time and again, not supported the idea. Mehbooba, on the other hand, has for long followed a peace-driven approach and the agenda of the alliance included following on the path of dialogue like former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee did in the spirit of “Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat aur Jamhooriyat”. The BJP government has maintained that terror and talks could not go together.
The alliance agenda further said that all political stakeholders will be included in the dialogue, irrespective of their ideologies. The BJP government has, however, snubbed the Hurriyat, with BJP leaders accusing many of the separatists of colluding with Pakistan. Leaders in the Hurriyat and interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma too failed to find a common ground for any plausible dialogue. BJP had in 2016 warned the PDP over its soft stand on separatists and had called for stringent action.
Another major point was the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Both parties had agreed that they had different views on the topic, but as part of the agenda, the “coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying disturbed areas” which will help the central government take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in the state. BJP, however, has reiterated that the controversial rule could not be scrapped off from the state “until peace returns.”
Other major promises that were made in the agenda included transfer of two hydro power projects from National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to the state. That is yet to see the light of the day. The alliance has failed to make any solid progress on the promises it made while coming together, despite a group of ministers having been constituted to oversee its implementation.