As it grapples with the unrest in the Valley, the Mehbooba Mufti government drew fire from within the ruling PDP Thursday when Muzaffar Hussain Baig, senior party leader and Lok Sabha MP from Baramulla, said the PDP-BJP government has so far “failed to deliver” on its “agenda of governance” and should resign if it is unable to keep promises made to the people.
“We have not been able to deliver at the ground level according to the agenda of governance, which makes the cadre of the party disgruntled. But I have every hope that it (the alliance) will deliver in the coming years,” Baig told The Indian Express. “If it fails to deliver, both parties, BJP and PDP, I mean the government, should resign. What’s the point of the Chief Minister resigning and a new Chief Minister coming in?”
According to Baig, the reason why the alliance has “failed to deliver” is because Mehbooba is still “trying to grapple with the process of governance as she has no experienced hand in the government — almost everyone except one senior leader is new in the government — while the BJP has been busy with elections in other parts of the country”.
An outspoken leader and former Deputy Chief Minister, Baig has drawn criticism in the past from rival parties over his utterances on radicalisation of Islam in the Valley.
He warned that “political rivals” within the country and “enemies from outside” have taken advantage of the situation, leaving the people of Kashmir disheartened.
He said the all-party delegation which visited Kashmir “did not get any moral advantage, only political advantage”. But the decision of the separatists not to meet the delegation, he said, was surprising to an average Kashmiri who wants peace and his children in school.
Baig did not, however, mount a direct attack on Mehbooba. “My heart goes out to her. She has no senior people in the government to advise or support her. She is fighting militants, she is fighting propaganda, she is fighting Hurriyat, she is fighting her political rivals, and she is also fighting a disgruntled cadre. Initially, she was trying to cope with the demise of her father, Mufti Saab,” he said, adding “she is doing a Herculean job, all alone.”
“The failure is in implementing the alliance (agenda) as expected by the people,” he said. “While the BJP was busy with polls in other parts of the country, PDP was busy with flood relief and rehabilitation after it came to power. Then we had the death of Mufti Saab.
Mehbooba did not take over immediately. Not because she was afraid of doing so, but because she was in mourning. It took two months for her to acclimatise in the government because almost all ministers and BJP MLAs were new.”
He said the Chief Minister was not informed about the killing of militant Burhan Wani, an incident which sparked the current unrest in the Valley. “Had she known about the plan, she would have insisted on just arresting him. Why would any political person let the killing happen? That is the reason I demanded a Commission of Inquiry to see which officer ordered the killing.”
He said this gave the Opposition parties — National Conference and Congress — a chance to attack the government. “Vested interests in Pakistan, which was rendered speechless by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s peace initiatives, were also looking for an opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Mehbooba Mufti met Governor N N Vohra Thursday and had a detailed discussion on the situation in the Valley. “In the meeting, issues related to internal security were discussed,’’ Suhail Bukhari, media consultant to J&K government, said.
The meeting at Raj Bhavan, sources said, lasted for an hour. Before he met the Chief Minister, Vohra also held discussions with Director General of Police K Rajendra and General Officer Commanding, 15 Corps, Lt Gen Satish Dua. Officials said that at both meetings, the Governor discussed restoration of normalcy in the Valley.
Army chief General Dalbir Singh is visiting Kashmir again Friday to review the security situation. Sources said there is a possibility that he will visit rural areas in north or south Kashmir.