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BJP-PDP war of words over Kashmir stone-pelters intensifies, cracks deepen in coalition of compromise

The differences in the PDP-BJP coalition government are spilling into the open with the parties engaging in a war of words over stone-pelters and the deteriorating law and order situation in the Valley. The verbal duel began after the PDP lost a supposedly safe seat to BJP in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council and Chandra Prakash Ganga, BJP MLA from Vijaypur, Samba district, said that stone-pelters in Kashmir were anti-national and that they “should be dealt with bullets”.

Rajnath Singh with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

Rajnath Singh with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

The controversial statement by a minister in the coalition government came at a time when the government led by Mehbooba Mufti is struggling to return normalcy to the streets of the Valley and after young Kashmiris across ten districts marched to protest against the security forces' "excesses" against the students of the degree college in Pulwama, where more than 50 students were injured on the college premises.

PDP vice-president Sartaj Madni, responding to Ganga's statement, said that such utterances were not only "disgusting" but also "perilous", adding that it was unbecoming of a senior minister to dish out such a sweeping, sickening and intimidating statement against Kashmiri youth.

“Instead of reaching out to the distressed and alienated Kashmiri youth, the hawkish rhetoric of such fringe elements has the danger of further adding to alienation of people and impeding the government’s efforts to restoring peace,” Madni said in a statement.

“Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed entered into an alliance with the BJP only with the objective of bridging the gulf between people of different regions of the state to new heights of inclusive development and prosperity…Unfortunately the unwarranted statements of such fringe elements are negating the basic philosophy of this alliance.”

However, BJP state president Ashok Koul told Firstpost that Ganga's remark was his personal opinion and not the stand of the BJP.  “Our alliance has come on the plank of development and we would abide by that. What individual leaders say is not the stand of the party,” he said.

The remarks by Ganga has further strained the already tense atmosphere between the alliance partners and embarrassed the BJP partner, which is demanding Ganga's immediate resignation. The cracks deepened further after Peoples Democratic Party lost a berth last week in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly after Syed Bakir Rizvi, an independent lawmaker from Zanskar area in Ladakh, decided to vote for the BJP at the last moment.

In the Assembly, BJP has strength of 26 members and the support of two MLAs of Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference, while PDP has 29 MLAs. As per the understanding between the coalition partners, Rizvi had to cast one vote for PDP candidate Abdul Qayoom Dar to ensure his victory but the party decided otherwise and preferred voting for their candidate.

And the BJP’s victory on an unsafe seat and PDP’s defeat on a safe seat in the council has only deepened this rift. Senior PDP leaders have already taken up the matter with senior functionaries of BJP in New Delhi.

“They want to have everything," Nizam ud Din Bhat, general secretary of the PDP, told Firstpost. "It is the responsibility of both parties to follow coalition dharma. It was decided by party leaders not to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the newly-elected members of council to protest against poaching."

Yasir Reshi, the lone elected member of PDP, did not take the oath, although he was seen in the council secretariat minutes before the ceremony began. “Yes, I boycotted the oath ceremony. But it was my personal decision, not of the party. What happened during elections was a big shock to me,” Yasir said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s core group meet in New Delhi to discuss the situation in Kashmir also sent shock waves through the PDP. According to reports, some top BJP leaders said the Centre must consider imposition of President’s rule in the state. Only time will tell how the coalition of compromise fares.


Updated Date: Apr 21, 2017 15:26 PM

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