By Harshmeet Singh
Abdul Malik (57), a resident of the Kashmir valley, voted for the PDP in the recent state elections.
When asked about his reasons for choosing PDP, he said “to keep the BJP out of power”. Malik’s fears aren’t unwarranted. BJP’s allegiance to programs such as ‘Ghar Wapsi’ has done little to resurrect its image of a hardcore Hindu party.
Opposites come together
Coming together of the BJP and PDP in Jammu & Kashmir stands true to the theory of ‘opposites attracting each other’. The results of the recent state elections divided the state into two different segments. While the BJP came up as the representative of Hindus and the Jammu region, the people of Kashmir region chose to go with the PDP. Now with both parties joining hands, it is difficult to decipher if any voter is excited about this unparalleled idea.
A closer look at the individual performance of the parties would indicate that PDP, the single largest party in the state, didn’t have many options other than warming up to the BJP. The two parties that were up in arms against each other before the elections suddenly changed their stand to “keeping all the options open”. The PDP, once dismissive of BJP’s chances in the state, was seen as accepting BJP’s growing stature in the valley.
Article 370 & AFSPA
The major bone of contention between the two parties remain the Article 370, which gives a special status to Jammu & Kashmir and the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) which grants special powers to the armed forces deployed in ‘disturbed areas’. While the BJP had always been vocal against the Article 370 and made it a major election agenda in the state, it readily dropped the idea in return of a hand in the state Government. When asked about his party’s changed stance on Article 370, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that “As far as divergence of views is concerned, to agree to disagree is a part of democratic practice which the two parties have decided to live up to,” As if to return the favour to the BJP, the PDP softened its stand on AFSPA. Once a strong opponent of AFSPA, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed took it upon himself to tackle the army when he said “I know how to ensure that Army is made accountable. Being the chief minister, I am also the chairman of the Unified Command.”
Common minimum program
Soon after the oath taking ceremony in the state, the Government came out with a common minimum program that highlighted its stand on all the key issues related to the state. The major postulates of the program include revising the need and desirability of AFSPA in the state, discussions on Article 370 while taking into account the views held by both the parties, dialogues with Hurriyat and Pakistan and measures for settlement of refugees from West Pakistan.
Off to a shaky start
The newly appointed CM in the state kicked off a storm on the first day in office when he spoke to the media and commented that “I want to say on record and I have told this to the Prime Minister, that we must credit the Hurriyat, Pakistan and militant outfits for the conduct of assembly elections -in the state.” While the BJP soon dissociated itself from the statement, its alliance with the PDP makes it answerable to such statements coming out from the CM’s office. If the PDP continues to walk on its own merry path, the Prime Minister and the BJP may have a lot of explaining to do in the coming days.