Jammu and Kashmir has gone under President’s rule because PDP has not taken a call to form a government.
The consistency of political engagement at regional level in India at best has been ephemeral and PDP is a shining example of this. It has vacillated, cribbed and maintained silence on pinching political issues in the guise of time required to cope with personal tragedy. No one can grudge the time required for the family but it has put a sensitive state like J&K on the edge. It is imperative that Mehbooba clarify her position on continuation of her alliance with BJP as political calculations cannot take place at the expense of the state. Of late, it is being indicated that PDP feels let down by the alliance and Mufti was unfairly treated by BJP on critical issues like AFSPA and others which have alienated PDP from its core vote and helped Congress and NC gain traction in Jammu and Kashmir. This brings us to Mehbooba Mufti’s silence which has led to unending conspiracy theories in the valley.
Her silence speaks of a number of things but most important being that she isn’t a political pushover. She has resisted the immediate pressure to become the CM of Jammu and Kashmir. She has kept all cards to herself and even kept those considered close to Mufti guessing. Though she has not formally broken alliance with BJP she has demonstrated her intention by quietly vacating the CM’s house in Jammu sending a powerful signal to her alliance partner on her intentions. She has engaged with BJP discretely with a long wish list keeping them on tenterhooks but not taken public position on issues close to her heart. So both dialogue and content remains opaque from public denying civil society its sober scrutiny.
The perception in general is that the alliance with BJP cost PDP substantial support base in the valley which can only be regained if rules of engagement with BJP can be re-crafted. But it takes two to tango and BJP understands that if it gives in to substantial issues concerning its national agenda like AFSPA and separatists it would impact its credibility across India. More so, the state being under Governor’s rule gives BJP sufficient time to engage PDP on equal terms though it still leaves them politically isolated.
In politics give and take is accepted but the key to BJP–PDP continuation would be reconciliation where either doesn’t feel humiliated because it can end up alienating both Jammu and Kashmir valley at the same time.
So the challenge for Mehbooba is whether she can walk the talk set by her father who till the end tried to reconcile competing political constituencies and ideological contradictions between him and BJP within common minimum programme or chart a new course with another political party. It is anyone’s guess.
Though what is required from Mehbooba Mufti is political honesty which is not about frank opinion confined within her four walls but declaration of intent which either allows for imaginative realignment with BJP or outside of it. In India political parties have the luxury to wait and pontificate about large and big picture issues but electorate doesn’t. Aam Aadmi requires its problems to be addressed on a daily basis. The aam aadmi of Jammu and Kashmir has given a mandate and it requires implementation through governance.