Expressing dissatisfaction over the “situation” in Jammu & Kashmir under the BJP-PDP coalition government, the BJP today pulled out from the Mehbooba Mufti government in Srinagar and paved the way for Governor’s rule in the sensitive border state.
The ruling BJP also went on to blame PDP for situation becoming “untenable” for their coalition government.
“We are saying that continuance in (PDP-BJP) Government had become untenable. The responsibility for this kind of scenario lies with the other side,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said after announcing the decision to pull out from the government. LIVE Updates: Jammu-Kashmir government collapses, as BJP ends alliance with PDP
Though the announcement has got political watchers speculating about the timing and political calculations behind this step, the BJP sought to suggest that unenthusiastic response to its unilateral ceasefire during the month of Ramzan was the tipping point behind this move.
“Ceasefire was an opportunity given to the terrorists and separatists from a position of strength… but this goodwill gesture was not reciprocated,” Madhav said referring to the violence, including the assassination of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, during the period of ceasefire.
Politically the move brings down the curtains to their last three years of coalition with ideologically opposed BJP and PDP.
The BJP, which has been championing abolition of Article 370, had entered into an alliance with PDP, which was perceived as soft towards separatists within the BJP, after protracted negotiation in 2015. Both parties justified the alliance with each other on the nature of fractured mandate where BJP won massively in the Jammu region while the PDP won in Kashmir Valley.
The alliance was found politically unpalatable to the party cadres across the country, however, the party took pains at explaining the political compulsions not only to party cadres but also the RSS leadership before deciding to stay the course.
Both the Congress and National Conference, in fact, blamed the marriage of political expediency between the ruling coalition partners as one of the major contributory factor behind the turmoil in the sensitive border state. However, both pledged to the protectively negotiated Agenda of Alliance to assuage the sentiments of their core support bases.
The BJP at the Centre, however, chose an iron fist approach to tackle the internal security challenge within the state. Narendra Modi government, in fact, pursued it’s strong arm tactics despite the discomfort within its coalition partner PDP, which kept advocating dialogue not only with separatists but also with Pakistan.
But, the BJP’s all out battle stretched from ‘surgical strike’s across the LoC against the terror launch pads to pellet gun firing against the stone-pelters inside the state. The central government had also unleashed central agencies to choke terror financiers with a clutch of raids and arrests in the state last year.
In what nows appears to have been an attempt to humour the PDP, the Government also announced an interlocutor in former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma. The initial hopes from the visits of the interlocutor, however, soon vanished as the separatists stayed away from engaging to this initiative.
Domestically, the BJP has not much to lose from this step among its party cadres who had to project satisfaction with the coalition in the state despite their apprehensions against the PDP’s ideological moorings.
As for outside the party, the move adds to the growing perception that BJP under Narendra Modi-Amit Shah is not able to collaborate with the alliance partners. PDP, for the record, becomes the second party after TDP to go separate ways a year before the national elections. The party, however, hopes to project the move as it’s commitment to keep the national interests above party’s interest to stay in power.
As for the PDP, it could be a setback to its leader Mehbooba Mufti who took time to form the Government after the death of her father Mufti Mohammed Saeed. She also braved internal dissension on this issue to continue with this alliance. She not only advocated dialogue with separatists and Pakistan but also cheered steps like appointment of interlocutor and ceasefire operations. The unilateral pullout by the BJP, however, has taken the BJP for surprise.
The handling of Kathua rape incident, the state government’s handling of the human shield incident are some of the issues that strained the relations between the coalition partners.