Masarat release tests BJP-PDP alliance

Though conflicts in the coalition were expected,the release of Masarat Alam has become a thornyissue in BJP-PDP ties within days of formingthe government. File photo  

The tenuous nature of the partnership between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to the fore on Sunday, seven days after their coalition assumed power in Jammu and Kashmir.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s decision to release separatist leader Masarat Alam from prison on Saturday has got the BJP crying foul, with the party describing the decision as “unilateral and unacceptable.” At a meeting in Jammu on Sunday, 23 of the 25 BJP legislators and senior officials decided to convey the party’s displeasure formally to the Chief Minister.

Responding to the PDP’s statement that Mr. Alam’s release was within the ambit of the common agenda, Jugal Kishore Sharma, a senior BJP leader, told The Hindu, “We categorically do not agree with this decision. This is neither the BJP’s decision nor the coalition government’s decision; it is a decision of the PDP alone.”

While both parties have been clear from the beginning that such situations of conflicting positions could be expected — the Opposition National Conference even termed the verbal duel a mere match-fixing — the intense attack from foes and friends alike has put the BJP under pressure, party sources in Delhi said.

Ally Shiv Sena blamed the BJP’s “opportunism,” while the Congress said Jammu and Kashmir exposed its “double standards.” Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said: “The BJP is responsible for whatever is happening in Jammu and Kashmir today.” The BJP is mindful of the fact that any perceived weakness on Jammu and Kashmir can have electoral consequences elsewhere. Bihar goes to polls later this year.

The divergence in the respective constituencies and vote banks of the two parties, which were described by Mr. Sayeed as “polar opposites,” seems to have exacerbated the cracks in the BJP-PDP alliance in the first week in power. While the PDP needs some bold political moves, such as the release of Mr. Alam, in its attempt to regain the trust of the people in the Kashmir Valley who it seems to have distanced from it by allying with the BJP, the latter has to answer to not only its Hindu vote bank but also its right-wing organisations such as the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 1:38:06 PM |

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