BJP-PDP alliance in Kashmir: Differences over talks with separatists puts Mehbooba Mufti in an awkward spot

Last week, when Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sat with her party’s core group members and legislators at her Fairview residency at Gupkar Road, she told them New Delhi was going to start a dialogue with all the “stakeholders,” but that the normalcy must first return.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“Give me a roadmap on how to come out of the ongoing crises and I will make sure New Delhi starts dialogue with all stakeholders. If they don’t, I won’t hesitate to leave the government,” Mehbooba told her party leaders, according to a senior PDP leader, who spoke to Firstpost on condition of anonymity.

But on Saturday, Mehbooba was rebuffed by the leaders of her own alliance partner, the BJP, saying they are not ready to start any dialogue with those who oppose India, including Hurriyat Conference.

BJP president Amit Shah, and national general secretary Ram Madhav, the architect of the PDP-BJP alliance, both reiterated that they are against holding dialogue with Hurriyat leaders and, the government should, instead,  act tough against what Madhav accuses separatist leadership of using “Valley as guinea pigs in their reprehensible politics of violence and separatism.”

Amid growing differences between the two parties, Madhav met the CM on Sunday afternoon as the wedge between two parties is widening over dialogue with Hurriyat.

A day before the meeting, in a Facebook post, Madhav had said that the Union government has "categorically" told the Supreme Court that there is no plan to hold any talks with "the separatists and those who are not loyal to India".

These remarks by the BJP leader have not only left their alliance partner, the PDP, red -faced but it is also slowly dawning on the latter that it may have to pay a heavy price for its aligning with the Hindu right-wing party.

Madhav, the national general secretary of the BJP, is also the architect of the BJP-PDP's 'Agenda of the Alliance' which clearly states: “Following the principles of "Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat" of the earlier NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the state government will facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders which include political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections.” It also adds, "The coalition government will facilitate sustained dialogue with all stakeholders irrespective of their ideological views.”

“I can’t say anything on behalf of the BJP but the agenda of alliance document is the basis for this coalition to come into being. This is a very important document for us and we will stick to it, and make sure it is implemented. That also includes holding dialogue with all the stakeholders” chief spokesperson of the PDP, Mehboob Beg, told Firstpost on Sunday.

Senior National Conference leader, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said the mainstream political parties have issues that can be addressed within the ambit of the constitution. "It is the Hurriyat leadership, which needs to be engaged in the dialogue,” he said.

National Conference patron and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, the MP from Srinagar, told party leaders and workers at NC headquarter in Srinagar that the stand of Government of India (of not holding talks with separatist) is extremely dangerous for future of Kashmir. “I want to make one thing clear to them (New Delhi) that dialogue is a must; there is no alternative to talks,” he said.

On the other hand, BJP president Amit Shah, who is in Jammu for a two-day visit, told party leaders that “nation comes first and the government second”. Despite repeated attempts by alliance partner to initiate dialogue with separatists on Kashmir, the repeated denials by the Center is eroding the credibility of the PDP, sparking speculations about a possible break-up.

“It leaves an already shattered Mehbooba Mufti in a huge dilemma. This is not a Jammu-based small-time leader denying dialogue but two very important people of a party which is ruling India.” Noor Mohammad Baba, senior political analyst based in Srinagar, said.

Senior PDP leader and Minister for Education Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Sunday said that dialogue cannot have a rider or any pre-conditions in a democratic set-up. He said dialogue at all levels needs to be inclusive and cannot be conditional.

“Dissent is the essence of democracy. Exclusion of the voices of dissent is against the spirit of a democratic polity. A lack of inclusive dialogue can only add to frustration and over time, generate rejection and more rebellion,” Bukhari cautioned.

“PDP believes that inclusive dialogue is the only way out. Unfortunately instead of taking such an initiative, we have been made to believe that central government has a lackadaisical policy with regard to Kashmir. This perception needs to be changed on the ground,” he remarked.

The PDP is paying a huge price for its alliance with the BJP. The refusal by the Centre to hold dialogue with the Hurriyat has pushed the PDP in an awkward and a dangerous position from which survival appears difficult. The party is caught between the proverbial devil and the deep sea.

Updated Date: May 01, 2017 13:44 PM

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