It is over in Jammu and Kashmir. The “unnatural alliance” between the BJP and the PDP has fallen apart. The BJP today pulled out of the Mehbooba Mufti government of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Taking feedback from all institutions, the centre and the party was of the view that it is time the BJP withdrew from state government,” said Ram Madhav.
Defending the decision to pull out support two years before time, the BJP leader said: “Fundamental rights of citizens including right to life and free speech are in danger.”
A day before Eid, senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead along with two security guards in Srinagar, which signaled that everyone was fair game for militants.
“After the killing of Shujaat, there was no question of not continuing anti-terror operations,” said Ram Madhav. In a series of tweets on Sunday, Union home minister Rajnath Singh announced that security forces had been directed to resume operations, indicating that the Ramzan ceasefire would not be extended.
The BJP has 25 lawmakers and the PDP has 28 in the 89-member state assembly, both far short of the majority mark of 44.
The BJP announced its decision shortly after party president Amit Shah met with the lawmakers from Jammu and Kashmir in Delhi.
This was the latest in a long line of disagreements between the two parties. There had been disputes over the past three years over PDP’s promises of talks with separatists, the proposal to remove the AFSPA (the Armed Forces’ Special Powers Act under which grants special powers to the army in insurgency-hit areas), and the rollout of the government’s flagship Goods and Services Tax.
In March, concerns over the future of the alliance surfaced after the PDP sacked its minister Haseeb Drabu, who had been a key interlocutor between the two parties.
The BJP-PDP alliance had strained over a range of issues with the saffron party ministers and leaders in Jammu and Kashmir complaining against Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s style of functioning. The BJP leaders alleged that Mufti had been taking unilateral decisions.
Mehbooba’s Kashmir-centric approach
At the time of formation of the BJP-PDP government in 2015, the election had resulted in a fractured mandate. The BJP won majority of seats in Jammu while PDP emerged largest in Kashmir Valley. But with Mehbooba Mufti replacing father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed after latter’s death, the BJP resented an increasing focus of the government on Kashmir Valley.
The BJP complained that under Mehbooba Mufti, Kashmir Valley was being pampered at the cost of other regions of the state. The BJP does not have a strong presence in the Kashmir Valley while the regions of its influence were being allegedly ignored. The BJP felt cornered in Jammu region which is the stronghold of the party.
Rise in militancy
The BJP said that the Mehbooba Mufti government failed to contain militancy and radicalisation of youth in the Kashmir Valley. “The situation in Kashmir Valley has deteriorated. Radicalisation is on rise,” Ram Madhav, the BJP general secretary and incharge of Jammu and Kashmir, said today in New Delhi.
The decision to withdraw from the government came a day after suspension of ceasefire in Kashmir Valley. Mehbooba Mufti is understood to have demanded extension of ceasefire in Kashmir Valley. The Centre had suspended operations against the terrorist outfits during Ramadhan.
However, militant activities continued in the Valley. Noted journalist Shujaat Bukhari and army soldier Aurangzeb were killed during the period of ceasefire in Kashmir Valley.
Kathua rape and murder
Rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua was a big dampener for the BJP-PDP alliance. The PDP was critical of the BJP being soft on the alleged party supporters of the accused. The local BJP leaders wanted a CBI inquiry into the incident while Mehbooba Mufti preferred probe by Jammu and Kashmir police.
In the days following Kathua rape and murder, the BJP was being seen losing ground in Jammu region. The incident had gained a communal twist with rallies being held in support and against the accused.
2019 Lok Sabha Elections
Resolving Kashmir issue was one of the poll promises of the BJP in 2014. However, the situation on the ground has worsened in the last four years – both in the Valley and along the Line of Control. In a year’s time, the BJP will be seeking votes and if the situation in Kashmir Valley doesn’t improve, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image of a strong leader would take a beating.
The BJP-led government has advocated a hawkish policy towards Kashmiri separatists and militants. The PDP was being seen as an obstruction in carrying out anti-militant plans devised by the security forces.