The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday withdrew from the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, breaking its alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party. With Mehbooba Mufti’s resignation as chief minister minutes after the BJP went public with its decision, speculation was rife that the state would come under Governor's Rule once again.
All that speculation was on point, as President of India Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday approved bringing Jammu and Kashmir under Central rule. Not only did several leading newspapers in the Valley predict this, they also seem unsurprised by the BJP-PDP alliance ending. Mehbooba expecting the end of the alliance, the number of times Governor's Rule was imposed in the state and what finally led the BJP-PDP coalition to break were the focus of the front pages of dailies in Kashmir.
Leading with the headline "BJP waves bye to PDP from New Delhi", Greater Kashmir referred to the press conference held by Ram Madhav, the BJP's national general secretary and Jammu and Kashmir in-charge, in New Delhi to announce his party's decision to snap its ties with the PDP. "The party's official line, however, revolves around the recent happenings including the noted journalist Shujaat Bukhari's assassination and also the abduction and murder of an Indian Army soldier past week,” the daily wrote.
Greater Kashmir also reported that the BJP had been planning the split "for quite some time, but the move concretised after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kashmir on May 20". "The PDP actually fell out of BJP's favour after it started insisting that the ceasefire should be extended beyond Eid and a dialogue process started simultaneously with Pakistan and separatist leadership here," it quoted sources as saying, effectively confirming the trigger that most quarters suspected.
The Kashmir Monitor went with a straight and blunt headline: "BJP dumps PDP". It highlighted what many would find ironic, coming from a BJP leader. "Madhav, interestingly, said the decision was made since the 'fundamental rights of citizens including right to life and free speech are in danger'". The newspaper also played up Mehbooba's telling statement that the saffron party's "muscular policy" would not work in Jammu and Kashmir.
With a clever play on words, Kashmir Observer brought to focus what many believe was what finally led to the BJP-PDP breakaway. The self-explanatory headline — "BJP CEASES Alliance In J&K, FIRES PDP" — indicated that the Centre's decision to not extend the suspension of anti-terror operations in the state, and the PDP's evident disappointment in the decision, was the final straw that led to the fall of the government.
The Kashmir Observer also published a column on the number of times Governor's Rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir.
"I wish she (Mehbooba) had listened to me and left with dignity instead of having the rug pulled from under her feet," former chief minister Omar Abdullah said after the BJP said it was breaking the alliance. Kashmir Reader went with his statement, leading with a headline that read: "BJP pulls the rug, Mehbooba govt falls". "It will be the fourth time that the state will be placed under Central rule during NN Vohra's tenure as governor," the newspaper wrote.
It also led with Mehbooba's statement that "unilateral ceasefire" was the "bigger motive" of the alliance, and that she was not surprised by the BJP's decision soon after it ended the 'non-initiation of combat operations' in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir Times chose to lead with Mehbooba's resignation, instead of Madhav's press conference. It wrote that both Mehbooba and Kavinder Gupta, the Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief, had responded in the negative after Vohra asked both parties whether they wished to "explore alternative alliances".
"BJP divorces PDP" was Rising Kashmir's screaming headline. This newspaper, too, highlighted that the PDP had been in favour of extended the suspension of anti-terror operations, "but there were contrary statements coming from the other side".
The assassination of the chief editor of Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari, was one of the reasons, Madhav said, that pushed the BJP to pull out of the coalition government. He blamed the PDP for failing to improve the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, also mentioning the abduction and murder of Indian Army rifleman Aurangzeb to drive home his point.
Daily Excelsior chose to lead with the reasons Madhav listed were behind the BJP's decision. "Madhav rakes up spurt in terror, radicalization, discrimination as reason". It also highlighted what many others did not, that all political parties had refused to form an alternative government.
The lukewarm stories in the Kashmir newspapers and their straightforward reporting indicate that the state and its critics had expected this government to fall apart, more than the state already seemed to have in the past two years.
Updated Date: Jun 20, 2018 13:27 PM