he failed move by PDP, National Conference, and Congress to form a government in Srinagar was a desperate but clever ploy to force the early dissolution of the state assembly. On the face of it, all the three political parties came out with a strong statement blaming the Governor and the Centre for preventing them to form a government when they had more than the number required for a majority in the House. The bare majority mark is of 44 MLAs to form the government. Against this, the combined strength of the MLAs belonging to the PDP, the National Conference, and the Congress was 56.
Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister and President of the PDP later said in a statement that by dissolving the House “the Center has stolen our mandate”.
Had the political parties who joined hands were serious to provide a popular government in the state, they would have moved the Supreme Court to challenge the Governor’s action in dissolving the state legislature. But no such step was taken by the parties. Instead, the parties in question resorted to ‘twitter’ to express their anguish over Governor’s action.
The latest development in Jammu & Kashmir has two sides. One, that the attempt to give the popular government to the people was a serious one. Another that the parties inadvertently embarked on a strategy that led to the dissolution of the state assembly. Had the Governor invited the parties to form government what would have been the consequences? Let examine this step by step.
Jammu & Kashmir would have got a popular government. But the three political parties who fight for the same political space would have tried to pull the coalition government in a different direction. It would have been like three untamed horses trying to pull the cart in different direction resulting in the cart getting stuck and finally getting broken.
The situation in Jammu & Kashmir has improved a lot under the Governor’s rule. The turnout in the recently held Panchayat election was impressive. There are fewer incidents of youths pelting stones at the Army and Security Forces engaged in encountering terrorists.
With a popular government in place, it would have taken a soft stand on those supporting terrorists in the valley. The response of all the three parties to strict action against those supporting terrorists is well known. None of the parties in question would have allowed tough measures against pro-separatist elements. With an eye on the election, the coalition partners would have gone for a pro-separatists policy that would have reversed the process of normalcy in the valley.
At the same time, it must be known that just because the proposed government in Srinagar was a non-BJP government the separatists would have calmed down to give strength to the coalition arrangement was not to come. Neither the Hurriyat nor the separatist forces would budge on their role to disrupt peace in the valley.
While deciding to dissolve the House, the Centre must have taken a serious view of the consequences of the formation of a government that would feed on separatists demand. Already a trend is being set in the country to encourage confrontation between States and the Centre. The Andhra Pradesh and the West Bengal Government headed by Chandrababu Naidu and Mamata Banerjee have banned the CBI from undertaking a new investigation in the two states without prior permission of the state government.
Earlier, Altaf Bukhari of the PDP who emerged as a consensus candidate of the coalition said that his government would work to protect the identity of Jammu & Kashmir which is under threat. I wonder if any threat exists to the identity of Jammu & Kashmir. On the contrary ever since the Modi Government came to power at the Centre, the Jammu & Kashmir has received special grants and special attention. During the BJP-PDP coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti, the Centre extended all help and cooperated with the Mufti Government in handling the volatile situation in the state.
The other side of the story is the two regional parties in Jammu & Kashmir namely the PDP and the National Conference were facing rebellion from within. The internal strife was getting strong as many PDP legislators were even thinking in terms of splitting the Party. Mufti would have lost her grip over the Party had her MLAs deserted the PDP. It was this in mind that she demanded the dissolution of the House soon after Governor’s rule was imposed in the state. Similar was the situation in the camp of National Conference. Some of its MLAs were ready to cross side by joining the BJP.
The first statement of the governor Satya Pal Malik that one of the reasons to dissolve the House was the fragile nature of the coalition proved right within 24 hours of the attempt of the three parties to form the government.
Some commentators were quick to say that the new coalition of the PDP, the National Conference, and the Conference was beginning of the formation of Mahagathbandhan in Jammu & Kashmir. Even before the ink had dried on the papers signed by the Governor to dissolve the state assembly, Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of the National Conference outright rejected the idea of his Party joining hands with Mehbooba Mufti to fight elections jointly as an ally. The idea of Mahagathbandhan fell like nine pins within a day of its abortive birth.
R K SINHA
(The writer is Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha.)
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