Monday November 19, 2018
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Why Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP is pleasing the separatists?

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By Harshmeet Singh

After taking the decision to release Masarat Alam, Jammu and Kashmir government under the leadership of PDP’s Mufti Mohamad Sayeed is ready to drop another bomb. This time it is planning to release Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, Kashmir’s longest serving prisoner.

PDP’s  coalition partner BJP is not happy with Mufti’s next move. Talking on the issue Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “I assure the country that the Centre will not accept anything that challenges the country’s unity.”

The state’s former Chief Minister, Omar Abdulla also took a dig at the PDP-BJP government when he tweeted “To say Alam wasn’t charged is a blatant untruth – he was charged under sections Sec 120 121 (waging war against state). 120-b & 307 also,”

After the release of Alam, both the parties have been pleading different interpretations of the Common Minimum Program on the basis of which the coalition government came into being in Jammu and Kashmir. Jugal Kishore Sharma, BJP’s chief for J&K said that “We are not going to tolerate any such statement or any such decision which is not as per the common minimum programme that we had agreed upon. We have decided to convey our displeasure to our partner so that such things do not happen in future,”

 

CM Mufti’s intentions

Before his arrest in 2010 when he was charged for being the key person behind stone pelting protests in the state that took over hundred lives, Alam had a sound following in the valley. His sharp opinions and demands of an ‘independent Kashmir’ was music to the ears of many separatists.

According to experts, one of the key reasons behind Mufti praising separatists is to take Hurriyat into confidence and bring them to the dialogue table.

PDP’s spokesperson, Naeem Akhtar made his party’s intentions clear when he said “This (Masarat’s release) has to be seen in proper perspective. It is an important part of our CMP to involve all stakeholders in the state and across the Line of Control for reconciliation and peace in the state,”

 

Is Mufti getting a complementary response from the other end?

If the PDP thought that their favour would tilt Alam’s outlook towards them, they were in for a rude shock. Hours after his release, Alam said “Changing governments does not change the reality on the ground. It does not affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Only the people can change it,” Alam is the leader of the Muslim League that has expressed its allegiance with the Hurriyat conference.

If Mufti intends to please the separatists by letting go off the prisoners, he might end up paying a heavy price for his assumptions that Hurriyat will reciprocate and help in bringing peace to the valley. It remains to be seen how far the BJP would allow him to carry on his experiment with country’s security.

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)