The BJP-PDP alliance was untenable from the very beginning. Their ideologies were as far apart as the North Pole is from the South Pole. For more than three years, the BJP and PDP danced to an uneasy tune – ever since a fractured mandate in the Jammu and Kashmir elections brought these ‘allies of inconvenience’ together.
Their Agenda for Alliance had promised ‘reconciliation and confidence-building within and across the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K thereby ensuring peace in the state’. But unfortunately, just the opposite happened. The state today is in complete turmoil, with a large section of Kashmiris in the Valley feeling alienated. Along with terrorism being bred and encouraged from across the border, its domestic seeding has become a reality today.
The Kathua rape case in blew up in the face of the BJP when several of its leaders played down the incident. The Ramadan ceasefire by the security forces – unsurprisingly, not reciprocated by the militants – further frayed the alliance. However, the murder of the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari, finally gave BJP the excuse to pull the plug on the alliance, by citing the worsening law-and-order situation in the state.
The call to break away is being portrayed by the BJP as being in the ‘national interest’. But pulling out of the alliance seems more to be in the BJP’s political interest. The split in J&K will probably enable the BJP to increase its support base in the Jammu region. It will also please hardline voters nationwide, especially in the Hindi belt of north India. There’s no doubt that this will form an important nationalist vote bank in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The decision to end the alliance may help BJP politically, but it will also pose many difficult questions to the ruling party.
The fact that the alliance has crumbled much before the time it was expected to last is an admission that BJP’s ‘Kashmir policy’ has failed. A Lok Sabha bypoll has not been conducted in Anantnag till date because of continual violence. The seat fell vacant after Mufti resigned to become the chief minister. A bypoll was held in Srinagar, but the turnout was a pathetic 7% – the lowest-ever count recorded in the Valley. If India is unable to hold Lok Sabha elections in Kashmir, it will be sending a very wrong message to the entire world and the international community.
BJP will also be asked why it wasted the precious 3.5 years of the people of J&K if it wasn’t able to deliver? Why did it keep quiet for so long, and why is it now running away from its responsibility to govern, by leaving the state in the ‘uncertainty’ of a governor’s rule? The timing of the exit, just a year before the Lok Sabha elections, will also be questioned.
Defending BJP’s decision to pull out from the alliance (before its time was up), Ram Madhav said: “Terrorism, violence and radicalisation have risen and fundamental rights of the citizens are under danger in the Kashmir Valley.”
But this statement seems quite ironical now. Less than a year ago, in November 2017, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the situation in Kashmir Valley had improved significantly. He had also said there was a decline in the incidents of extremism and that the credit for this should go to the followers of Islam in the country. Singh had further mentioned: “Pakistan is continuing with its antics and making efforts to break us, but the co-ordination among our Army, paramilitary forces, the Jammu and Kashmir Police and intelligence agencies has been excellent.”
So, how has the situation, which was improving till last year, suddenly deteriorated to the extent that it ultimately forced BJP to quit the alliance? This is a question to which there is perhaps no convincing answer.
Meanwhile, in this political tussle, the fate of the state is hanging under the uncertainty of a governor’s rule.