Other States

Analysis: BJP didn’t want to face 2019 polls as PDP’s ally

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and BJP chief Amit Shah during press conference at Mr. Shah's residence on February 24, 2015, announcing the coalition two months after the state election results were declared.

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and BJP chief Amit Shah during press conference at Mr. Shah's residence on February 24, 2015, announcing the coalition two months after the state election results were declared.   | Photo Credit: Prashant Nakwe

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The alliance, which was put together with much careful crafting, could not, in the end, carry the weight of the hugely contradictory ideological positions.

The end of the BJP-People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government in Jammu and Kashmir has two dates attached to it. For detractors of the alliance within the BJP, it began with the inception of the alliance (many preferred the BJP’s former ally, the National Conference, over the PDP), for others, it was when Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away in early 2016, taking away the political heft that anchored the alliance, a teflon coating that deflected the criticism from such politically contradictory and inorganic alliance.

There are, of course, more manifest and immediate reasons, the biggest being the looming general election of 2019, an election that the former allies just could not afford to face together.

'Constituencies getting alienated'

“The situation in the State has become such that both our core constituencies have become alienated from us. There was no way the alliance would hold till 2019. We were facing a huge backlash from Jammu and Ladakh, the areas that vote for us, and the Valley was hitting out against the PDP. We had an idea that the PDP would pull out of the government by September-October, well before the February announcement of general election. By pulling out first, we can still hope to retrieve some ground,” said a senior office-bearer of the BJP.

Before pulling away support, the BJP says, it also made gestures indicating that it was still willing to work with the PDP. “The decision to pardon first-time pelters of stones, the appointment of an interlocutor, offer of talks, and the Ramzan suspension of operations were all aimed at demonstrating that,” said the source.

“Our constituency, however, was upset with us. When the discussions over whether or not to extend the Ramzan suspension of operations were on, the decision to withdraw support was also taken by the top leadership of the BJP and government,” said the source.

The alliance, which was put together with much careful crafting, could not, in the end, carry the weight of the hugely contradictory ideological positions.

“Till Mufti sahab was there, it was still ok, he had the position, in the minds of the people to reconcile some of the contradictions,” said another senior BJP leader.

Leaders' complaint

Over the last couple of years, however, the BJP’s hold in Jammu and Ladakh was seen to be slipping and local leaders complained that chances of re-election in 2019 were slim indeed.

On Monday afternoon, the BJP’s Ministers in the Jammu and Kashmir government, along with the State unit leaders, were summoned to Delhi, with party general secretary in charge of the State Ram Madhav cutting short his trip to Andhra Pradesh.

With BJP president Amit Shah scheduled to visit Jammu on June 23 to commemorate the death anniversary of Jan Sangh founder and principle opponent of separate status for Jammu and Kashmir, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, alarm bells rang.

The evening before that, along with the decision not to extend the suspension of operations in Kashmir, the decision to pull the plug on the alliance had been made. This afternoon, the curtains came down on the alliance. In the years that the BJP was in government in the Valley, the Syama Prasad Mookerjee death anniversary ceremonies were muted, out of respect for its ally, the scale of the memorial meeting this time round is yet to be seen.

In one of his last speeches, at the India Ideas Conclave in Goa in 2015, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said this of the alliance: “I saw a historic opportunity to break a new path in resolving issues of chronic friction between regions and ethnic groups in the state by forging an alliance with the BJP.”

An opportunity which, on Tuesday morning, seemed to have well passed its sell by date.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 2:36:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/analysis-why-the-pdp-bjp-alliance-ended/article24201819.ece

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