Earlier this week, an intense political drama played out in Jammu and Kashmir which has been on political turmoil ever since BJP broke its alliance with Mehbooba Mufti. The state has been under governor’s rule since then. Mufti dreamt of reviving state’s legislative assembly by stitching alliance with long-time rival National Conference’s Omar Abdullah and Congress. While PDP president contended support of 56 MLAs in the 87-seat assembly, Mufti claimed that she failed to reach governor Satya Pal Malik, through fax or phone. She later took to twitter to expose the new political developments in the valley.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 21, 2018
Soon after, People’s Conference’s leader Sajjad Lone also tweeted, staking claim to form government with the support of BJP. Consequently, Singh decided to dissolve the assembly- a decision that has been termed ‘undemocratic’ by the government and experts in law of the land.
While one can still believe Mufti’s claim of stable government through this ‘Mahagathbandhan’, Lone’s contentions that he along with his all-weather ally (BJP) can give valley a stable government is bizarre. It’s bizarre because PC has only two MLAs, including himself.
Further, Malik’s decision and his explanation appear to be misplaced as well. He tried his best to explain that how PDP-NC_Congress can’t give a stable government as this alliance was ‘unholy’. Malik seems to have conveniently forgotten about PDP-BJP alliance where two pole apart parties came together to form the government. While that association ended on a bitter note, it survived for three years.
Malik is wrong in citing that PDP and NC have differing ideologies. He needs to understand both these parties don’t have as such any ideology. They try to fit in the equation wherever and whenever it suits them. Both have shared power with the two major political parties in the state and Centre both. Congress on the other hand is a multi-ideological party with every other political stalwart of their party having a different opinion about different issues. This totally debunks Malik’s reasoning that these parties have opposite ideological extremities.
Coalition is never about arch-rivalry. It’s famously said that “Politics makes for strange bedfellows”. We have seen it past and still witness it like Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav or Akhilesh Yadav-Mayawati. But New Delhi always has a different scale to measure the political intimacies of Kashmir. An alliance which brings the ruling party at centre into the political equation is always prioritized over a local political force taking over the reigns. New Delhi feels that it can’t afford to let the state be ruled over completely by the local mainstream parties because that would put them in a catch-22 situation. Their supremacy would take a hit and considering the fact that BJP is ruling at the centre today, it becomes even more difficult for regional forces to come to power.
The National Conference has nothing at stake. It would anyway, in all probability, be on the winning side, come 2019. But, it’s an opportunity for the Congress and the PDP to grab the power. The revival of the Congress in Jammu is extremely difficult at the moment. The election would be a two-way contest, not between two parties but between two regions. BJP would have its highest tally in Jammu, and Kashmir will vote otherwise. The PDP and Congress are thus trying to somehow fit in so that their political legitimacy won’t take a hit.
The rebellion by Mehbooba’s frontline leaders has been another cause of concern for her. It’s a deja vu moment for her party. The way PDP was created in 1999 to create a alternative political cushion for New Delhi because NC’s feathers were shredding too fast. Sajjad Lone’s third front is an icing on the cake for BJP. The third front would cater to the Kashmiri populace and will divide the vote in the region further and that would straightaway benefit the party which has a clear majority in at least one region out of the four, and there can be no two thoughts about which party would eat the cake with Sajjad Lone’s third front as the topping.
Coalition politics belonged to the socialists and was briefly shared by the UPA and NDA on the national level. Jammu and Kashmir has never voted in one particular direction and the mainstream parties here have always harped on centre’s support. This imaginary political coup de-tat on the lines of Turkey, attempted by Kashmir’s mainstream political powerplayers has failed for now but any politically aware person can predict that the Pandora’s box
is only half open yet. Only time will tell what is in store for Kashmir.