The Devil & the Deep Sea

Greater Kashmir

Formation of the government could not have been as difficult as it turned out to be

The BJP, with 25 seats in the recently concluded assembly elections, is continuously knocking at the doors of two major regional parties, PDP and NC. PDP and NC are playing it very wisely. It is now quite evident that BJP is very much desperate to form the Government as the party is sending its emissaries for having meetings with the PDP as well as NC leadership.  As BJP could not accomplish its  mission 44 plus, the party has not at all accepted the defeat and it is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that a BJP led Government is installed in J&K,  for which hectic deliberations are already on. It seems that plan “A” of BJP could not materialize due to variety of reasons and that is why Omar Abdullah has finally left for London to meet his parents. Now BJP leadership led by its national president Amit Shah and General Secretary Ram Madhav have started working on plan “B” which actually doesn’t empowers BJP as much as it would have been empowered in the plan “A”. For practically implementing this plan the BJP leadership have started knocking at the doors of PDP leadership who according to media reports have put a list of demands before them, which includes having Chief Minister from PDP for the full six year term, revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from selected districts, special economic package for J&K, rehabilitation of recent flood victims, and  respecting special status granted to J&K under article 370. It is now up to BJP leadership whether they would accept the demands of PDP or not.

PDP-NC coalition?
Omar Abdullah on the other hand has played safe by offering unconditional support to PDP and even some TV channels  flashed  “breaking news” indicating that a letter of unconditional support has been sent to the PDP. But Omar Abdullah himself said it was only a verbal offer. With PDP having 28 MLAs  and NC 15 MLAs, plus 2 independents elected with NC support from Udhampur and Zanaskar, the resultant 45-strong coalition will clear the halfway mark of 44 in an 87-seat J&K assembly. This could be a great coalition of two J&K based regional parties who otherwise are considered to be great enemies of each other, but to counter a stronger enemy, the two enemies can ally in the larger interest of state. I am sure PDP and even NC leadership would be acknowledging this fact, but the problem here is that Jammu region which has 25 MLAs from BJP alone would be minutely represented in the state cabinet and this would further widen the gaps between the two regions. 

Can PDP face the challenge?
If PDP makes a coalition Government with BJP, both the regions would be proportionately represented in the Government. And on the development front also J&K state would get good economic packages. But in-spite of all these positive aspects, the Muslim dominated Kashmir, Chenab and Pir Panchal regions, would still feel dejected in view of the communal and anti Muslim track record of BJP, especially at a time when the right wing Hindu extremists are forcibly converting Muslims to Hinduism; or discussions on Uniform Civil code and article 370 are  stridently debated by the Sangh Parivar. Can PDP, considered to be a secular and pro Kashmir political party and having prepared a vision document in the shape of “Self Rule”, afford to face these challenges?  

Facing public criticism and anger is not only restricted to PDP – BJP coalition Government, but  the National Conference will have to face much more public  ire  as they would be junior partners with the BJP in case they make a coalition with them, as the CM’s post is going to lie with BJP and this combination  is further going to aggravate the problem. In a nutshell we don’t find any ray of hope for having a strong and  viable Government in Jammu & Kashmir  at this point of time and this clearly indicates that both NC and PDP have been caught between the devil and the deep sea.