Since the beginning of the current session of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, the state government has been left red-faced on several occasions, facing protests by the legislators of the ruling parties. Most of the lawmakers who have openly come out in protest against the government were dropped from the Council of Ministers by the new government.
Jammu and Kashmir has a coalition government of PDP and BJP since Mehbooba Mufti took oath as the first female Chief Minister of the state on 4 April. Several ministers from the cabinet of previous PDP-BJP government led by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed were dropped by the Mehbooba Mufti either for going against the party or due to the low performance card in their previous tenure as ministers.
From a senior minister, such as Sajjad Lone, refusing to join office of “insignificant ministry” to the verbal duels between the PDP MLAs in the Assembly, it looks like that CM Mehbooba is struggling to maintain the consensus among the members of the government. During a discussion in the Lower House of the Assembly on 28 May on the implementation of controversial National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the state, the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CA and PD) Minister, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, was cornered by the fellow PDP lawmakers — Ashraf Mir, Javaid Mustafa Mir and Yawar Dilwar Mir — over the poor implementation of the act.
Another member of coalition partner, BJP, RS Pathania, while trying to interrupt the CA and PD Minster castigated him for making misleading statements on NFSA. When MLA Yawar Mir supported opposition leader Ali Mohammad Sagar for questioning the food law, the government found itself in an embarrassing situation. While the trio accused CA and PD Minister of adopting a flawed scheme, the Opposition members shouted “shame, shame” while thumping the benches.
The CA and PD Minister while replying in a sarcastic tone to the fellow agitating party members said: “nayi, nayi ministry gayi hai”. Both Ashraf Mir and Javaid Mustafa Mir were dropped from the Council of Minister in the Mehbooba-led government. The angry legislators were pacified only after the intervention of other fellow MLAs.
On 28 May, Javaid Mir, former Revenue Minister, trained guns on army for interfering in the life of the people of Leh and not paying the rent of the government land used by army for garrisons in the division. Meanwhile, the fellow BJP legislators, who are very vocal when it comes to support forces, remained tightlipped on their seats in the Assembly.
The ruckus continued in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Friday over the controversial SRO-105 which allows non-state subjects to participate in the bidding for mineral excavation in the state. Amid din by the Opposition over the implementation of SRO-105, the senior PDP legislator, Altaf Bukhari, former R and B Mininster and Khalil Bandh, and other BJP lawmakers too joined the protest against the government over the implementation of SRO-105.
The PDP lawmakers said the government move will be a violation of Article 370 and will have impact on the livelihood of the locals workers. On facing the protest, the speaker announced setting up of a committee to look into the its implementation and the House had to be adjourned amid ruckus.
The open rebellion of the ruling party legislators particularly of PDP against the State Government is a worrying sign for Mehbooba Mufti who is already battling to run a government with an ideologically opposite, BJP and united separatists. Mehbooba needs to make some bold efforts to bring all the members of the party on board for effective and strong government before the opportunity slips out of her hands and the cracks become more wider.