The alliance between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) was never something which one would term as a natural alliance. It only came about in the first place due to the statesmanship of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed from the PDP and the central leadership of the BJP.
The unfortunate demise of the senior Mufti in the initial days of the alliance dealt a massive blow to the long term sustainability of the alliance. Mehbooba Mufti started throwing tantrums at the BJP immediately after the death of her father. Since then, the alliance has only been an unwanted compromise for both the parties. This was evident by the 88-day governor’s rule in the state, when Mehbooba refused to take oath.
The alliance for the BJP naturally turned sour, because it had been at the political cost of its Jammu voter base. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, unlike any other state in India, comprises three distinct demographic regions — Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. These are as different from each other as being three entirely different regions in their own right. This was evident from the electoral performance of political parties in these regions. The BJP, for instance, couldn’t win a single seat in Kashmir Valley but was the best performer in the Jammu region.
An alliance in the face of an anomaly like this would naturally have political costs for both the alliance partners. Such political cost was much more for the BJP, simply because of the virtue of the fact that the BJP was the junior partner in the alliance. The PDP, being the larger party, with its own chief minister, could simply do more for its voter base in Kashmir.
At the same time, the Hindu voter base of the BJP in Jammu has been brewing with anger since the inception of the alliance, not principally, but because of the functioning of the PDP-dominated government.
Moreover, actually successful counter-terrorism operations by the BJP-led central government have also had political costs for the PDP. For instance, the killing of Burhan Wani, who was a dreaded and a wanted terrorist, came at a political cost for the PDP. The history of the PDP must be contextualised, wherein it has always been soft towards the separatist sentiment in the Valley.
The central government agencies like the ED and NIA also cracked down upon the Hurriyat leadership in the aftermath of demonetisation. The arrest of Altaf Shah, the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and several others by the NIA did not go down well with the PDP leadership. The political cost emanating from these developments were only natural for the PDP.
It has to be mentioned, that the BJP, both at the state and central levels, did not faulter on the basic principles of effective governance, as is evidenced by succesful counter-terrorism operations and raids by NIA. The political cost did not stop the BJP from forming the government in the first place. The central leadership of the BJP made it clear at that time that there could be a government through an alliance between opposing ideologies, as long as the promise of good governance is preserved.
Presently, the already unsustainable alliance had come to collapse because of the never-ending spree of violence in the Kashmir Valley. It seems that Mehbooba Mufti completely stopped paying heed to its junior ally when it came to containing violence and radicalism, and hence, the BJP had to take the route of Governor’s Rule. It is interesting to note that the press conference of the BJP talked about the feasibility of governor’s rule in the state. Perhaps Governor’s Rule was the last resort to make sure there is an effective clamp down upon the violence in the state. This is also expected because the next election would only happen with the Lok Sabha polls and would be in the best interests of the BJP.
The author is a Senior Fellow with the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, Mumbai. He tweets @raghavwrong
Updated Date: Jun 20, 2018 07:42 AM