Views from Srinagar
BY the time the readers would be reading this column on their breakfast tables or at the offices, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would be completing the last minute formalities regarding the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.
For all practical reasons, Thursday’s scheduled meeting of the PDP legislators called by their party President Mehbooba Mufti is a mere formality ahead of the expected announcement about the second innings of the PDP-BJP coalition government on Jammu & Kashmir’s sticky turf.
Naeem Akhtar, the party’s senior leader, has been quoted by a local news gathering agency claiming that Jammu and Kashmir will see the PDP-BJP government by March 29.
Let us face a simple fact: morality does not define politics the world over, especially in our part of the world. Politics is a game of possibilities. Some say it is the art of possibility. And the ideologies and principles often surrender before the lust of power.
That said, the absence of morality from politics does not necessarily absolve the PDP. The PDP may well be within its rights to feel unanswerable to the voices that do not believe in electoral politics and the so-called pro-India mainstream politicians. But the party has a lot of explaining to do. It has to face its voters and sympathisers at some point in time because they were promised in no uncertain terms that the PDP was the only party to keep a “fascist” force like the BJP at bay.
Essentially, the party lost its claim of being a pro-Kashmiri regional party the moment it stitched a coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in March 2015. It has lost its mojo since, especially in the Kashmir valley.
Saying that the PDP has preferred power over principles will be stating the obvious. Mehbooba Mufti may have tried her best to give an impression that she was not hankering after power, but it has not worked.
PDP President and Member Indian Parliament Mehbooba Mufti met Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning in New Delhi. After her one-on-one meeting that lasted for 35 minutes with the Indian Prime Minister, she sounded optimistic. She described her meeting with Modi “very positive”.
Though Mehbooba Mufti did not comment on the government formation, she told reporters that a meeting of the party legislators has been called on Thursday 24th March. She also said that in that proposed meeting the members would be briefed about her meeting with Modi, and the way forward.
Accompanied by former Finance Minister in the PDP-BJP government Haseeb Drabu, she said: “I am satisfied. I have called a meeting of legislators. We will sit and talk how to move forward.”
Well, how to move forward? Is that the question? The fact of the matter is that the PDP has officially embraced the saffron party for the second time since March last year. The question that begs an answer is why this delay and drama for over two months after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s demise on January 7? After Sayeed’s death at the AIIMS in Delhi, a false impression was created by the PDP that it is not power hungry. It is interested in weighing all options and will take any decision, keeping in view the larger interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Newspapers and television channels were reporting and debating how and why Mehbooba Mufti was playing the hard ball.
Common Kashmiris were being told that the PDP wants assurances from New Delhi and will not form the government if some Kashmir-specific and Kashmir-centric CBMs were not announced. That the Alliance Agenda must be followed in letter and spirit. That the verbal assurance won’t do anymore.
After all this hyperbolic build up, the PDP shamelessly surrendered for the second time. Fearing internal rift, the party preferred power over everything else.
Now that the BJP’s general secretary and point man for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav has made it clear that “no new conditions from the PDP have been accepted”, is it a fair to ask what happened to the PDP’s Kashmir-centric CBMs demand? Where are the assurances? What has the PDP gained by saying yes again to the BJP?
And if the answer to all these questions is NOTHING, then why this nearly three-month long delay in the government formation?
In fact, Madhav said that Mehbooba Mufti did not put up any new conditions during her meeting with Narendra Modi.
“We have not accepted any new condition from the PDP,” he told PTI. Meanwhile, the PDP’s meek surrender is a win-win situation for the BJP. It has come back to the PDP after playing temporary hard ball for some time. It has not divorced the BJP but agreed to continue with the marriage of inconvenience on previous terms and conditions. Or, as a layman would say, the PDP is happy to work on lesser wages than before.
I vividly recall what I had said at the time when the PDP-BJP coalition government was formed in March 2015. On all prime time television debates, I described the PDP-BJP partnership as an “unholy alliance” and the PDP’s decision to forge partnership with the antithetical BJP as a “political suicide”.
A political suicide could have been forgiven once by Kashmiris, but when someone makes suicide a habit you know the end result: disaster. The PDP may enjoy power for some years, but what it must not forget is the fact that Kashmir is a graveyard of reputations. And the party has dented its own reputation by ambiguities, false promises, indecisions, and petty politics.
Anyone interested in knowing the opinion of a common Kashmiri about the local Kashmir politics is well advised to visit saloons or spend some time on the shop fronts, decks and railings. These are the places you normally get to know the unadulterated, neat and candid political opinions.
—Courtesy: Rising Kashmir