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Mehbooba had no clue about the BJP coup

Last updated on: June 21, 2018 09:52 IST

'From what I know of her,' says Mohammad Sayeed Malik -- the distinguished doyen of Kashmir commentators -- 'Mehbooba will not take too long to recover.'
'How much room she can then find to maneuver in the valley's extremely harsh political climate only time can tell.'

Mehbooba Mufti resigned as Jammu and Kashmir chief minister on July 19, 2018 after the Bharatiya Janata Party terminated its alliance with Mufti's People's Democratic Party

IMAGE: Mehbooba Mufti resigned as Jammu and Kashmir chief minister on June 19, 2018 after the Bharatiya Janata Party terminated its alliance with Mufti's People's Democratic Party.

Only an Urdu phrase -- gunnah e be-lazzat (tasteless sin) -- can effectively characterise the incompatible relationship between the PDP and the BJP, which the latter unilaterally walked out from on Tuesday, June 19, leaving its alleged senior partner to lick the wounds of their unwept separation.

By all account, this decision is rooted in he BJP's '2019' poll strategy.

Issues framed in the aftermath of the dramatic announcement in New Delhi by BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, to the PDP's utter surprise, give out the design: 'The Jammu and Ladakh regions were suffering discrimination, Kashmir was getting out of hand and needed tough treatment and the overall situation was deteriorating dangerously'.

This part of the text is straight out of the BJP's well known political lexicon (for and in J&K) for decades.

The brazenness with which the party in power at the Centre sought to absolve itself of any blame in the failures of its coalition in the state, while lambasting the PDP, smacked of betrayal.

So much so that the chief minister had no clue of what was about to hit her.

 

If the Mehbooba-headed coalition really discriminated against Jammu and Ladakh and it was hindering security operations in Kashmir, why did the BJP wait for three long years and let its moral obligation go to sleep?

Retrospectively, it looks as though truth and honesty were put to sleep when the BJP offered to extend legislative support to an ideologically inimical partner in 2014 and again when its freak child was sought to be disowned.

As of now, it looks that the state will remain under governor's rule under Section 92 of the J&K constitution that limits its duration to six months.

The assembly will not be dissolved immediately after it is suspended by Governor N N Vohra.

Attempts are already under way to 'explore' desertions from the PDP and with People's Conference leader Sajjad Lone's support resurrect a viable contraption until the next assembly poll due two years later.

The PDP is demoralised, more by the suddenness of the event than the shock of its unceremonious exit.

Mehbooba tried her best not to show it while facing her partymen and later in her interaction with the media. But the gloomy faces around her gave out the secret.

From what I know of her, Mehbooba will not take too long to recover and be back on her feet.

How much room she can then find to maneuver in the valley's extremely harsh political climate only time can tell.

The coalition with the BJP has robbed the PDP of its homeground (south Kashmir) which is also in the grip of fierce alienation.

Also, how much of her present flock is ultimately left to go along with her cannot be guessed at this stage.

In any case, things are not going to be the same for the daughter of the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed whose quest for 'joining the South Pole with the North Pole' has been smashed and lies in ruins.

This 'polar' nightmare stares Mehbooba right in her face, with the BJP's contemptuous parting kick to their joint venture.

The PDP is stunned. How, when and in which shape and size it will eventually emerge only time can tell.

Poaching of its MLAs has already started. The political ground is too hot even to step upon.

For the BJP, putting a hard face on Kashmir has become an unavoidable necessity with the recent series of electoral setbacks across the country.

None of its favourite polarising issues appear to be of much help in shoring up its electoral fortunes.

No surprise then that the party leadership fell for 'Kashmir' with all its tantalising electoral appeal.

And it also sells in the electoral market.

But if the BJP aims to regain lost ground in Jammu (from where its 25 assembly seats in the 2014 assembly election catapulted it into power for the first time) its leaders are mistaken.

Rampant corruption by its ministers in the coalition and their poor performance on the administrative front has drastically lowered the BJP's stock value on its home ground.

The probability is that the party may be compelled to pull out its old weapons of divisive politics (regional discrimination, Muslim/Kashmir domination, Rohingiya etc) to salvage its electoral fortunes, against a stiff challenge mainly from the Congress.

It may not be as easy for the BJP to harvest any worthwhile electoral gain in Kashmir even as it can count on some gains in the rest of the country from its 'hard face' on the security front.

As of now, its prospect of regaining the leverage to decide who it will partner with to return to power in Jammu and Kashmir appears doubtful.

In Kashmir, the political climate is so vitiated that even the third contender for power, the National Conference, finds it suffocating to go out and mobilise public opinion.

Besides, alienation on the ground is as deep and as wide as it was in the 1990s when the poll percentages were shamefully low.

On the security side, one really wonders how the security forces's operational capability will improve with a change of political guard.

There was no perceptible obstruction from the civilian side and, in any case, the security forces do not brook any deviation or obstruction.

'Giving the security forces a free hand' is no doubt a catchy slogan, but it practically means nothing in Kashmir, for they have always had a free hand in such matters.

It was so even during the so-called Ramazan ceasefire.

The political oufit at the top in Kashmir has learnt to live with the extra-constitutional superiority of security forces.

So to expect that under governor's rule or any other dispensation something miraculous will happen on the security front would be foolhardy.

If anything, a political buffer -- good, bad or indifferent -- has always been considered a wiser course.

Mohammad Sayeed Malik
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