Jammu and Kashmir govt falls apart: Rajnath Singh, PDP's most-trusted BJP leader, left out of alliance-ending talks
On Monday evening, when Jammu and Kashmir's BJP leaders and MLAs were asked to report to New Delhi between 7.30 and 7.45 am on Tuesday, they had little idea as to what was transpiring
On Monday evening, when Jammu and Kashmir's BJP leaders and MLAs were asked to report to New Delhi between 7.30 and 7.45 am on Tuesday — and advised accordingly to book early morning flights to the National Capital — for a meeting with the party high command, they had little idea as to what was transpiring and were only told that the party leadership wanted to discuss strategy ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
But what has surprised many in the Valley is a newspaper report stating that the two most important people when it comes to Kashmir — Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Centre's special representative to Jammu and Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma — were kept in the dark about the party's decision to pull out of its alliance in the state.
So did National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and BJP chief Amit Shah seal the fate of Mehbooba Mufti in an early morning meeting in New Delhi? Most mistook the early morning meeting between Shah and Doval as being related to Amarnath Yatra preparedness. But now it is clear that before coming to a conclusion on ending the alliance, Shah wanted to have firsthand knowledge of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, noted Sanjay Singh, political editor of Firstpost.
Sharma was in fact in Srinagar and meet Mehbooba for a detailed discussion on the situation in the state. By afternoon, when he was asked for his reactions on the BJP's decision to pull out of the alliance, he was taken back. "I have no idea about this and the decision of the Central government. I came to know through TV news; I don't want to comment on this," Sharma said in Srinagar.
It was after meeting Doval that Shah met the BJP state leaders and apprised them of the party's decision to break the alliance. The Telegraph said after his party's decision, the home minister drove to home, while two officials said "they felt Rajnath had so far been unaware of the impending decision".
National Conference working president Omar Abdullah tweeted, "If this story is true & @HMOIndia didn’t know about the impending demise of the BJP-PDP alliance then the fact that it caught me & my colleagues by surprise is really no big deal."
Rajnath was seen as the only trusted leader in the Central government by the PDP, whose leaders felt he actually listened to them. In fact, in the first week of June, he was welcomed by a roaring crowd of over 5,000 sportspersons at Srinagar's SK Indoor Stadium, where he said, "I see a new dawn emerging from the state."
It was he who had announced the suspension of combat operations in the Valley and was deeply involved in the state's affairs. He was tasked to hold a meeting of key officials to take the suspension of counterinsurgency operations forward, but the spurt in violence towards the end of Ramzan and the killing of Shujaat Bukhari changed everything. At his official residence, Rajnath held a meeting with the home secretary Rajiv Gauba, IB chief Rajiv Jain and special secretary in the home ministry Rina Mitra on the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Doval too was present, The Telegraph noted.
"Rajnath was concerned about the situation in Kashmir. He was personally in touch with the PDP leaders to see to it that the government headed by Mehbooba was being run smoothly. He was the only Central minister who had started to appreciate the necessity of adopting the politics of compassion in Kashmir over a muscular approach — this resulted in the suspension of operations," a senior PDP leader said.
With his political bosses out of picture, Director-General of Police SP Vaid also hinted that the PDP was getting in the way of carrying out counterinsurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley.
"The operations will continue and it will much easier to work now," he said. The home minister, despite wanting the valley rid of militants and secessionist forces, wanted to approach the problem in a different and moderate approach. "That his own government kept him in dark illustrates the kind of politics that has poisoned our country where there is no space for moderation," the PDP leader said.
Under Governor's Rule, the forces are likely to be given a free hand to deal with the prevailing crisis, paving the way for more bloodshed on the streets.
"I have just seen the newspaper report about Rajnathji," PDP leader Rafi Mir said, "It proves Mehboobaji's point that New Delhi wants to rule Kashmir with an iron hand and there is no space for voices of moderation and sanity."
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