For an event touted as one of historic proportions, it met a rather swift end. The NDA governments outright rejection of the J&K assemblys autonomy motion had a touch of panic to it. Farooq Abdullah, in response to New Delhis hesitant testing of political waters in the Valley, pulled out the long-hibernating pre-53 formula. In vetoing it out of hand-whether out of dread of the stigma of attaching with an idea so anathema to the BJP as a party, or to pre-empt similar demands from states-New Delhi seemed to have put down "our man" in the Valley. And in doing so, severely cramped its own manoeuvring space. An opening sought to be created disappeared under its own debris.
The question now is whether the government will talk to the Hurriyat or try to keep Farooq in good humour. On July 4, a grim Farooq accompanied by his law and parliamentary affairs minister P.L. Handoo reached the PMO at 10.30 am. Vajpayee told them his cabinet, due to meet later that morning, would reject the motion. Though Farooq had an inkling about it a day earlier, Vajpayees position was that it could be raised anyway in Parliament and the government was not going to be a party to any such resolution.
The cabinet resolution itself was quite terse. "The government is of the firm conviction that national integration and devolution of powers to states must go together." It also noted that "acceptance of the J&K resolution would set the clock back and reverse the natural process of harmonising the aspirations of the people...with the countrys integrity." In the words of a Vajpayee aide, "Farooq had played his part by passing the resolution. The Centre has played its part by rejecting it."
So is there more to come? A smarting Farooq, facing an erosion of his authority in the state, said he was...