Talaq in J&K: on PDP-BJP split

A marriage of convenience ends the moment a divorce becomes more convenient. In Jammu and Kashmir, the post-poll coalition of the two polar opposites, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Peoples Democratic Party, was never meant to coalesce into a credible pre-poll alliance. But while the PDP would have been willing to wait till the Assembly election in 2020 before breaking ties, the BJP had its compulsions for pulling out of the alliance before the Lok Sabha election next year. Both parties feed off the denominational divide, the BJP depending on the Hindu vote bank in Jammu and the PDP on the Muslim vote bank in Kashmir. Neither party’s campaign rhetoric would have appealed to the other’s support base. The divorce was thus foretold from the beginning: what was left to be decided was the most opportune moment for separation. For the BJP, the controversy over the support extended by two of its Ministers to the accused in the Kathua rape-and-murder case would have signalled that the alliance was no longer sustainable. A majority of its supporters in the Jammu region were opposed to the case being pursued to its logical conclusion. But outside of Jammu, the BJP knew it could not be seen as extending support to the accused. The withdrawal of the two Ministers from the J&K Cabinet did not go down well with the BJP’s rank and file, which was beginning to feel the PDP was getting the better of the bargain. But breaking ties on the Kathua issue would have sent all the wrong signals to the rest of the country, which was horrified at the brutal nature of the crime. So the BJP chose to wait.


The differences over whether or not to extend the cessation of operations against the militants announced for the Ramzan month provided a fresh opportunity. While the PDP wanted the cessation of operations to continue so that it could serve as a launch pad to talk with separatists about a political solution, the BJP saw it as no more than a respite from stone-pelting in the Valley. In any case, with the Hurriyat showing absolutely no inclination to talk, and the militants targeting civilians and Army personnel in a continuing spiral of violence, there were arguments to the effect that it was futile to extend the stay on Army operations. Given how the numbers stack up in the J&K Assembly, an alternative government without the BJP will need the PDP, the National Conference and the Congress to come together — a possibility that is, to understate the point, somewhat remote. The PDP and the NC are political rivals in the Valley, fighting for the same political constituency. A coalition would be fraught with political risks for both. The 2014 verdict was a fractured mandate, one that reflected the fragmented polity of a State torn asunder by violence. Another election may not guarantee political stability, but it remains the only way to test the popular will of the people in this roiled State.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 1:42:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/talaq-in-jk/article24203920.ece

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