Even while the PDP and BJP engaged in power-sharing talks over the past two months in Jammu and Kashmir, there was a palpable sense of deception and betrayal among the people of the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley who had voted for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in record numbers to keep the BJP out of power.
While the PDP-BJP alliance is now sealed with Mufti set to take oath as the chief minister of the state today, people in Kashmir Valley remain wary. Mufti himself had described the PDP-BJP alliance as a unification of the“North Pole and South Pole”, but on Tuesday, senior PDP leader and chief spokesperson of the party, Naeem Akhtar, described the alliance as a “miracle of democracy.”
Ever since the Assembly election results were declared on 23 December, the PDP showed more inclination towards allying with the BJP, using the alibi of ‘respecting the mandate of people in Jammu’ where the BJP had won 25 seats.
The party even turned down offers of ‘unconditional support’ by the National Conference as well as Congress.
Detractors took to social networking sites, newspapers and televised debates, warning the PDP that its patriarch, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, would meet the fate of one of Kashmir’s tallest leaders, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, whose grave needs round-the-clock police protection.
“After Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s will be the second grave to require police protection if PDP allies with the BJP,” Showkat Reshi, a student at University of Kashmir, wrote on Facebook.
“It needs to be pointed out that a PDP-BJP dispensation will not necessarily be ‘historic’ in a positive sense. In fact, it would most likely accentuate the Kashmir-Jammu divide because the state's governance would be predicated on religious identity, not on civic needs,” renowned political historian, Siddiq Wahid, said.
“What would have been truly historic is if the PDP had the confidence to form the government without the BJP and demonstrated to Jammu that it didn't need to have Hindu legislators to enjoy political and civic equity. That needs an uncommon confidence which is perhaps absent in much of politics today,” he adds.
However, for the state that has been battered by not only violence, but also a lack of accountability among forces and corruption in administration, any government that can get rid of these ailments and bring development will be a “welcome change.”
“If the two parties are able to bring in accountability and transparency into the system of governance, it will alleviate the fears of ordinary people that the fringe elements in the BJP will fiddle with the religious sensibilities of the region,” Ajaz Ahmad, who teaches Political Science at Srinagar college, said.
The PDP may draw solace from the fact that it has got the BJP on board to initiate the process of revocation of AFSPA and also agree to a status quo on Article 370 and control of some power projects from the Centre but most people see the alliance as a victory for the right-wing party which has never been in power in the state.
“For BJP, its blitzkrieg of ‘Mission 44 +’ worked out well to touch the highest ever mark of 25. So the next move was to be in the power structure as it was a ‘now or never’ situation for the party. To be a power player in the only Muslim majority state is surely a dream come true,” noted political commentator, Shujaat Bhukari, in Rising Kashmir.
He however described the “ascendancy” of the BJP in J&K as “no different” from what it did in rest of India in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
“Here too the communal polarization worked as a spinner in the game. In contrast, the mandate in Kashmir Valley was fractured. Commentariat in Kashmir concluded that the vote in Valley was to stop BJP’s entry into the power structure. It is a known fact that BJP never had a foothold in Kashmir and it tried all means to do that in the recent elections but failed miserably by losing the security deposit in 33 out of 34 assembly segments. Now that PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has moved ahead for an “unholy alliance” with BJP, it needs to be seen whether he can achieve his “agenda” or gets lost in the saffronised power,” he wrote.
In South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town where PDP has its original roots, residents say the party has already lost its foothold, which was why it lost six seats from the area which was once considered as its stronghold.
“We voted to keep BJP out of power but the same BJP will rule us now. This is not what we have voted for. This is not why we trusted Mufti saheb. We feel cheated and the PDP will face the consequences of its alliance with BJP in Kashmir in coming years,” Nazir Ahmed Wagay, who lives in Anantnag, said.
However, some are hopeful that the new government will push forward growth in the state. “It doesn’t matter whether the BJP or the PDP rules the state. At the end of the day, if our highly educated and unemployed youth get jobs and infrastructure is developed in the state, it would solve our problems,” Ghulam Rasool, a retired government employee, said.
Updated Date: Mar 01, 2015 09:48 AM