January 25, 2020
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When Opposites Repel

PDP’s survival hinges on the Centre talking with separatists

When Opposites Repel
No Love Lost
PM Modi with J&K CM
Photograph by Getty Images
When Opposites Repel

Facing an upheaval of sorts from within, the ruling PDP is keen on talks with the BJP over the implementation of the political points in the Agenda of Alliance (AoA). Senior PDP leaders say there is pressure from party workers who believe the PDP can survive only if the central government initiates talks with the separatists. In a party meeting on Tuesday evening, PDP legislators asked CM Mehbooba Mufti to ensure that the BJP agrees to a timeframe for the AoA’s implementation. According to a PDP MLA from south Kashmir, the party cannot afford to play second fiddle to the BJP.

PDP legislator Ashraf Mir says there is no split in the party and it will continue to push the BJP to hold talks. Speculation about a split had begun when some PDP leaders recently spoke out openly against the BJP, for the first time since the formation of the coalition government in March 2015. One of them was Peerzada Mansoor Hussain, who was Mehbooba’s political advisor before she became CM and is vice-chairman of the Khadi and Village Industries Board, which functions under the ministry of industries. Hussain described the remarks of industries minister Chander Prakash Ganga of the BJP on stone-pelting youths as “nauseating”. “Just see the video. When beaten up with sticks, they (stone-pelters) shout slogans of ‘Death to Pakistan’. That’s the way to treat them. No need to pamper them…. A traitor needs a bullet,” Ganga had said. Hussain reacted saying, “Such remarks not only reflect the nauseous mentality of some extremist politicians in the state, but also expose the larger design of certain elements to provoke fresh trouble in Kashmir so that Kashmiris are pushed into perpetual educational and economic disempowerment.”

The very next day, education minister Syed Altaf Bukhari of the PDP lashed out at BJP general secretary Ram Madhav for saying “everything is fair in love and war” in defence of the army’s action of tying up a Kashmiri artisan to a military jeep.

“One fails to understand against whom Mr Madhav has declared war!” reacted Bukhari. “Is it a war declared against Kashmiris who, despite all odds, cast their votes reaffirming their belief in democracy? Or it is a war declared to satiate the sanguine electoral interests of a particular political party?”

Hussain tells Outlook it’s high time the AoA was given a serious thought. “That’s the roadmap formulated by the BJP and the PDP. Now they should take it forward,” he says. “They can begin by lifting AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) from the secretariat premises in Srinagar.”

In the days ahead, it seems, the PDP will be talking straight with its coalition partner over the political aspects of AoA and its fate. ­According to a PDP leader, any split ­within the party or imposition of Governor’s rule would be “suicidal for both”. “Talks with the separatists and restrain in dealing with protesters is the way ­forward,” he says.

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