Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference acting president Omar Abdullah’s speech at the India Today conclave in New Delhi on Saturday has made it unambiguously clear that no major political party in the sensitive border State would be part of the National Democratic Alliance, before the Assembly elections at least.
As of now, only a tie-up between the BJP and the Congress was ruled out. Two potential allies lay in the ruling NC and the Opposition People’s Democratic Party. Both meaningfully treaded the path of moderation and neutrality in the last few weeks and did not do much of posturing on some key issues — closure of Pathribal enquiry, revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, V.K. Singh’ s appearance in the Jammu & Kashmir legislature.
Notwithstanding the Valley being both the parties’ primary constituency, the NC as well as the PDP have made sustained efforts in the past to increase their visibility in the Hindu-majority Jammu province. This was in sharp contrast to the pre-election scenario in the 2008 Assembly elections which automatically neutralised the possibilities of camaraderie with the NDA in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009.
This time around, there is a remarkable difference: Lok Sabha elections first, Assembly later.
Mr. Abdullah is on record that the NC will not enter into a partnership with the BJP that has someone like Narendra Modi in the hot seat. But the proverbial last word came in New Delhi on Saturday when he categorically set aside all speculations, justifying his party’s 2004 alliance with the NDA “due to a leader like Atal Bihari Vajpayee”— who restored friendship with Pakistan with a cross-border bus, with a ceasefire.
Mr. Abdullah’s redrawing of the existing line will automatically diminish the possibility of a PDP-BJP tie up. If not Mufti Sayeed, his daughter Mehbooba Mufti has already burnt her boats to the point of no-return even with a Vajpayee-led dispensation.
Mr. Modi’s December 1 rally in Jammu has in fact come as a turning point for both the coalition partners. Until that day, both the allies used to publicly berate the other with tantrums of winning the absolute majority independently.