The odd couple of J&K:Five key issues on which PDP-BJP don't see eye to eye

But, if the two parties do join hands to form the government in the state, they are going to be a very odd couple.

Adrija Bose December 30, 2014 17:37:32 IST
The odd couple of J&K:Five key issues on which PDP-BJP don't see eye to eye

The PDP and BJP may be close to an agreement to govern Jammu and Kashmir in coalition with PDP leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as chief minister. The deadlock over government formation in the state may end soon, with both PDP and BJP insiders saying the two parties were close to striking an agreement. But, if the two parties do join hands to form the government in the state, they are going to be a very odd couple.

Here's a look at some of the topics on which they have completely differing views:

On Article 370:

The controversial Article 370 ensures that Jammu and Kashmir's residents live under a separate set of laws as compared to other states, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property and fundamental rights. The provision also stipulates that citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu and Kashmir.

Ahead of sealing the deal, PDP sought assurance from BJP over safeguarding Article 370. The PDP is clear that article 370 of the constitution, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, cannot be revoked. The BJP has traditionally been opposed to this article.   Last year, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti had said Article 370 was "no Babri Masjid to be demolished by communal forces".  Defending Article 370, she had said that it connects Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India and if it is abrogated, the accession of the state with 'India will automatically become redundant.'

"Article 370 impacts everything in Jammu and Kashmir, from political discourse to personal responses, from economy to emotions, from society to sensibilities and from institutions to ideologies," Mufti had said while releasing the poll manifesto for the state.

The odd couple of JKFive key issues on which PDPBJP dont see eye to eye

BJP and PDP will become an odd couple. Image: ibnlive

On the other hand, BJP wants to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution. In fact, this was one of their poll promises in the state. "This has been an important agenda of our manifesto and will remain so. We want to discuss whether this article has benefited the state or just a few families only," party’s J&K spokesman Khalid Jehangir had told Hindustan Times ahead of the poll. However, the party remained mum on the issue during the polls.

On AFSPA:

The BJP had earlier said that Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was important in Jammu and Kashmir.  For the past six years, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been demanding the gradual withdrawal of AFSPA. Under the Act, armed forces operating in any disturbed area have special powers and they cannot be prosecuted without sanction from the Union defence ministry.

However, Abdullah had faced stiff resistance from the BJP among other parties.

Last year, state party convener Kuldeep Raj Gupta had said that the time was "not ripe" to repeal AFSPA as there was a "dire need for utmost vigil" along the border areas.

"The recent cases of threat to elected Sarpanchs and Panchs in Valley also indicate that situation does not allow to think in terms of bringing down level of presence of security forces,"  he said.

However, the BJP recently softened its stand on AFSPA in the state. They said the party will create an atmosphere where such a "stringent" law would not be required.

Meanwhile, PDP is committed to revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state. The party has sought assurance from its prospective partners which includes BJP over it.

Chief spokesman Naeem Akhtar told reporters, “The PDP’s stand on Article 370 and State’s unique status is non-negotiable and the party wants to initiate a process for the resolution of Kashmir issue at the earliest.”

While releasing the poll manifesto, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said, "We (PDP) will assess the issues relating to notifying of 'Disturbed Areas' to pave the way for revocation of AFSPA. We would also review all the cases against the youth and stop use of inhuman crowd control methods like the pellet guns."

On self rule:

The BJP has always been against self-rule or ‘azadi’ to Kashmir.

At ‘Ekta Sankalap Rally’ at Mini Stadium, Parade Ground, in 2010, the BJP top brass including LK Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley among others made it clear that the BJP stood for complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India and its accession with the country was final and irrevocable.

In 2010, during a debate in the Lok Sabha on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi asked the then Home Minister P Chidambaram to tell Kashmiris unambiguously that their demand of "azadi (freedom) or autonomy is not viable".

"Kashmir is an integral part of India and no force in the world will take it away from India," Joshi said. "You say there are genuine grievances. I ask what they are. Is India sending forces there... are we occupying Kashmir? What are the grievances? I don't see any grievances other than the demand of azadi... If that is what you call genuine grievance, then please tell them clearly that azadi or autonomy is not possible, is not viable," he said.

On the other hand, the PDP’s success is a result of its ability to creatively engage the pro-azadi sentiments in Kashmir.

In April, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said that her party can again pull the state out of the dark era of National Conference rule as was done in 2002. She said the people of the State now yearn for 'azadi' from the draconic NC rule.

“PDP is now the only voice left in Jammu and Kashmir to represent its regional aspirations as NC has lost track with the State’s ground realities and its people,” Mehbooba said while addressing a public meeting at Dooru in district Anantnag.

In fact, azadi slogans that usually reverberate pro-freedom rallies in Kashmir valley were modified slightly by jubilant supporters of PDP following the election results.

On terrorism

During their election rallies, observing that peace is imperative for progress and prosperity of any region, the PDP assured people that it will aggressively pursue its agenda to restore lasting and sustainable peace along the borders.

"I assure you PDP will create conducive atmosphere so that farmers of the borders areas can cultivate their land up to the zero line without any fear of bullets or shelling," the former chief minister  Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said.

PDP also vowed to make Jammu and Kashmir a bridge between India and Pakistan by opening the Kargil-Skardu road and starting a bus service on it. The party also promised to bring the regions of Kargil and Leh on the economic and development mainstream.

Meanwhile, BJP so far taken a belligerent stand against Pakistan. At an election rally, Modi promised to being 'peace' if BJP is voted to power.

"You need peace, you need development, you want to compete with states like Gujarat. I assure you the BJP, if voted to power, will bring the state back on the rails and ensure its growth," he said.

BJP President Amit Shah at an election rally had said that the BJP-led NDA government along with the Indian Army will give 'befitting reply to Pakistan.'

When Modi invited Nawaz Sharif to Delhi for his swearing-in ceremony, many in Kashmir believed that the PM struck the right note. But the volte-face in policy towards Pakistan has dampened hopes of peace in the Valley.

On Kashmiri Pandit rehabilitation

BJP's vision document that was released before the Assembly election, included the three major demands of Kashmiri Pandits--steps to facilitate the pilgrimage to the Sharda Mata Temple in PoK, establishment of Sharda Peeth University in J&K and political reservation for the community. The BJP had promised to initiate a process for the just and honorable resettlement of the Kashmiri Pandits and underlines the "TIME" model for development of Jammu and Kashmir - TIME being an acronym for tourism, infrastructure, modernisation and empowerment.

Meanwhile, with BJP sniffing a chance to be a part of the next Jammu and Kashmir government even as political consultations are still on, the Centre is quietly preparing the ground for the rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir Valley.

The PDP, on the other hand, has not spoken much on Kashmiri pandits and their rehabilitation. On one of the rare occasions, Mehbooba Mufti said that the Kashmiri Pandit community has immensely contributed in the past and it is time for their 'return to their homes with honour and dignity.' Although the poll manifesto finds mention of Kashmiri pandits, there hasn't much mention of their rehabilitation during the election rallies.

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