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PDP backs Mehbooba Mufti as CM but BJP bargains for 50:50 formula

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Srinagar:  The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the governor to let Mehbooba Mufti, the daughter of late Mohammad Sayeed, to administer the Muslim-majority state.

However, PDP’s coalition partner BJP might reportedly bargain for a 50:50 formula for running the state.

A huge mass of mourners assembled at the first ‘Nimaz-e-Jinaza’ (funeral prayer) for Sayeed here and a second in his hometown Bijbehara where he was laid to rest.

Peoples Democratic Party leaders Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and Altaf Bukhari submitted a letter to Governor N.N. Vohra nominating Mehbooba Mufti as the leader of the PDP’s legislature party — which would entitle her to assume charge as the new chief minister.

A senior PDP leader said its coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party, backed Mehbooba Mufti’s elevation as chief minister.

Mehbooba Mufti, a Lok Sabha member, will have to get elected to the assembly or be nominated to the legislative council (upper house) within six months if she succeeds her late father as the chief minister. She will be the first woman chief minister of the country’s only Muslim-majority state.

However, BJP leader Avinash Rai Khanna, who is in charge of the party affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, said the chief ministerial issue has not been decided yet, and the party will take a call soon.

“There has been no discussion over the issue of the chief ministerial candidate yet. When the matter comes up, the party will take a call”,  Khanna told media.

“It is for the PDP to decide who will be its legislature party leader”, he said when asked about the PDP nominating Mehbooba Mufti as its leader in the state legislature.

Another top BJP functionary said that the party will push for the formula of 50:50 for the remainder of the chief ministerial term, meaning for half of the rest of the term the PDP would head the government and the BJP for the other half.

“Mufti saheb had proposed earlier too to consider Mehbooba as the chief minister when we were in talks for the formation of the government earlier, but we were not ready”, he said.

“We had clearly said that if he himself opts for the top post, the BJP has no problem but if Mehbooba would be projected, the BJP would go for 50:50 formula”, the BJP functionary said on condition of anonymity.

In the last assembly elections, the Peoples Democratic Party won 28 seats and the BJP 25. The opposition National Conference got 15 and the Congress 12.

Sayeed died in New Delhi on Thursday, 14 days after he was hospitalised.

He passed away at 9:10 AM at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, three days after he was put on a ventilator. “A severely diabetic, he died due to bone marrow dysfunction”, a spokesman of the AIIMS told media. He was admitted to the AIIMS on December 24 with fever as well as a chest infection.

Amid seven-day state mourning, his body was flown to Srinagar.

Sayeed, who survived several attacks on him by militants, was the chief minister for the first time in 2002-05 in a coalition government with the Congress. In March last year, he allied with the BJP to become the chief minister again.

President Pranab Mukherjee lauded his contribution to Jammu and Kashmir and to India through long years of public service.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Sayeed’s exemplary leadership had a major impact on people’s lives crediting him with ‘statesmanship’. Mufti Sahab provided a healing touch to Jammu and Kashmir.”

Sayeed was the third chief minister of the state to die in office — after G.M. Sadiq (1971) and Sheikh Abdullah (1982).

Born in Bijbehara on January 12, 1936, to a family of ‘Peers’, Sayeed studied in Srinagar and at the Aligarh Muslim University before he joined politics in 1959.

After taking on the iconic Sheikh Abdullah, Sayeed became a cabinet minister in Jammu and Kashmir in 1972. Just three years later, he became head of the state unit of the Congress party.

He joined Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1986 but quit the following year to throw his lot with V.P. Singh, who revolted against Gandhi’s leadership and went on to become the prime minister in 1989.

Sayeed became the home minister in the V.P. Singh government.

Within days, militants abducted his third daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed, in Srinagar, forcing the VP Singh government to free five jailed guerrillas from Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1999, after a brief stint again in the Congress when P.V. Narasimha Rao became its leader, Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba floated the PDP.(IANS)(Picture Courtesy:hindustantimes.com)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)