Interview | National

Public perception in J&K was in favour of Governor’s rule: Ram Madhav

BJP in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav addresses a press conference in New Delhi on June 19, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

BJP general secretary in charge of Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav, speaks to The Hindu on why his party took the decision to end the alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State…

It’s being said that the alliance was ended with an eye on the 2019 general elections?

There was no political consideration behind Tuesday’s decision. It was purely on account of the growing public perception that the State needed Governor’s administration for some time as things in the last one and a half month had deteriorated fast and the political leadership was not doing enough to address the situation. It was purely in the national interest, and the interest of the State. I can tell you that if political pressure was the reason we would have done it long ago.


How long ago?

The pressure was there every time there was a major incident or a statement coming out. There used to be pressure on us.

In your statement you did say that your partner obstructed development activity in Jammu and Ladakh. So it was your base that was being affected.

There was a feeling in these two regions that it was so although our (BJP) Ministers did their best in the departments that they handled to address all concerns. But there was a growing feeling that much more could be done. This is one part of the reason, the larger security scenario deteriorating was the other part.

The BJP is in power at the Centre as it was in power in the State. Doesn’t the decision to withdraw from the alliance an admission of failure?

When you are pulling out of the government, it doesn’t mean we are leaving the State. The Centre will administer the State. So it’s the Governor as the representative of the President of India who will govern the State. We have put into place a four-pronged approach. One is utter toughness on terrorists; secondly, go after the over ground operatives of terrorists via the legal route; thirdly to engage with different sections of society — even the Home Minister, when he had visited Kashmir had said that he was willing for talks with everyone, even the Hurriyat; fourthly to focus on development. This approach will continue under Governor’s rule also. So, we are not giving up on the State. In ending the alliance we are saying that on some dimensions the government in the State was not able to deliver.


The BJP-PDP alliance is seen as an experiment, what were the lessons for you?

Many people talk about whether the decision of the BJP-PDP coming together in alliance was the correct decision or not. I would say ideologies are in black and white but in democracy, politics has many shades, many colours, if you manage those many colours, you get a rainbow, that’s why they are called rainbow alliances. Stopping the rainbow metaphor here, they are also short-lived, but then you must remember that you have to learn to live with different parties. They may not agree with you on many issues. I give you the example of Vajpayeeji’s government, 23 parties came together, did anyone of them agree with our core ideology? No. That is why we had to put aside our core issues like Article 370, Uniform Civil Code and the construction of a Ram Temple for some time. In Karnataka today, the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) who screamed and lunged at each other during the campaign came together. In Kashmir, a few years ago, the Congress was in alliance with the PDP. So that was ethical and non-contradictory?

But Mr. Vajpayee also got grief from the BJP’s core constituency. Did you also face that? Is that the reason for the pullout?

The core constituency, as long as we are committed to the national integrity and interest, is with us. That is the core idea of our ideological position, along with good governance. There will be people who are critical of the BJP-PDP alliance. I’ll ask one question, why did J. Jayalalithaa pull out of Vajpayeeji’s government in 1999? There was no ideological clash, real politik dictated that decision. So did anyone say that the alliance with Jayalalithaa itself was wrong? Alliances by nature have their own difficulties. No alliance is easy. In a democratic set-up, however, we should be prepared for such experiments. The nature of the mandate in Jammu and Kashmir was the reason for the alliance — we got huge numbers from Jammu while the PDP won big in the Valley. Had the alliance not come together, the State would have been under Governor’s rule. People would have questioned why they voted for us.


What was your experience with late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti?

No two individuals are alike. We had worked out the alliance with Mufti Saab, and Haseeb Drabu was the interlocutor from the PDP and we, through a number of sittings arrived at an understanding. The alliance took off on a slightly rocky note with some statements etc. which led to some controversy, but it soon settled down. We started working well together, but then Mufti Saab passed away and that was the first setback for us. Having said that, after a gap of three months the alliance was restored with Ms. Mufti at the helm, to give her credit we worked well with her too.

Then what happened?

In the last few months there was a perception that not enough was being done to contain growing radicalisation and terrorism in the Valley. For example, there was a clamour for a cessation of operations during Ramzan. Many of us made public statements opposing it, but since Ms. Mufti wanted it and appeared to have some road map going forward, it was done. But during that one month we saw no reciprocation of that gesture, what the Government of India did was not out of a weakness. The Hurriyat and others could have seized the opportunity for talks, the political establishment too did nothing to bring this about. Instead we saw killing of policemen, innocents, who were Kashmiris, killing of a respected journalist like Shujaat Bukhari in broad daylight in the VIP area of Srinagar. It showed that the goodwill gesture of the Centre was not being pursued by the political establishment, including the PDP, who all remained in their cocoons. So a situation had emerged where, there was an insistence on extending the suspension of operations, to talk to Pakistan. That is where we felt there was a mismatch between us, leading to Tuesday’s decision.

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