Peoples Democratic Party, which had emerged as the alternative to the National Conference, stands decimated as it lost all the three parliamentary seats in Kashmir. The biggest loss for the PDP was the defeat of its president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, who lost Anantnag parliamentary seat to NC debutant, Justice (Retd) Hasnain Masoodi. Mehbooba was contesting her 7th election from south Kashmir and she tasted her first defeat in her citadel. Mehbooba losing Anantnag seat has put PDP in more trouble.
In 2014, the PDP had won all the three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir and went on to win 28 constituencies in the Assembly polls, which were held soon after the parliamentary elections ended. The party joined hands with Bharatiya Janata Party and formed the government in Jammu and Kashmir. The PDP leaders in 2015 would have never imagined that they would stand on crossroads in 2019. The PDP patron and late chief minister of J&K, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed at the time of forging an alliance with the BJP had predicted that the saffron party has a “bright future” in India and his party has joined hands with the BJP to put Jammu and Kashmir on the path of development. Mufti Sayeed took oath as the J&K Chief Minister in March, 2015, but his death in January 2016 left the PDP and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti shattered. After her father’s death, Mehbooba took nearly three months to decide whether to go with the BJP again or not. But ultimately she decided to carry forward the alliance which her father had approved. Soon after Mehbooba donned her father’s mantle and was sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of the state, she landed up in a big trouble as the killing of Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area triggered massive protests across the Valley. The unabated protests and killings continued for nearly six months and the south Kashmir, from where PDP had won most of its assembly seats was the worst hit. In fact south Kashmir was the epicenter of all the activities. Even after the protests ended and life started limping back to normal in Kashmir, troubles for the PDP didn’t end. It kept on losing its turf in Kashmir. On the other hand its coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party kept its constituency intact in Jammu and Ladakh and didn’t bother about what was happening in Kashmir. The BJP in 2014 had won two parliamentary seats in Jammu and one in Ladakh and in 2019 it has repeated its performance by retaining all the three seats. The PDP has turned out to be the biggest loser.
Some people say that PDP joining hands with the BJP was the “biggest blunder” which the party committed, while some are of the opinion that the party failed miserably on the governance front and couldn’t deliver what it had promised to people. The trouble aggravated for the PDP in June 2018, when BJP decided to pull out from the J&K government led by the PDP. The PDP leadership had not even dreamt that BJP would pull the plug and say goodbye to the party. In fact PDP had put everything at stake for the sake of BJP but the saffron party just ignored what all the PDP had done to join hands with it and left the PDP in lurch.
Soon after the PDP-BJP government crumbled under its own weight in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP leaders started saying goodbye to the party and one by one the top PDP leaders deserted the party. Despite being on a sticky wicket, Mehbooba Mufti took a bold decision and decided to contest the parliamentary polls from Anantnag. But her attempt to lead from the front did not yield the desired results. She and her party stand cornered. The PDP has lost its bastion as well as New Delhi’s support. Just few years ago the PDP was the most vibrant party in Kashmir and everyone was of the opinion that if the party rules the state for six-years, it would lead to National Conference getting wiped out from the political arena of Kashmir. But it seems that the PDP has really paid a heavy price for allowing the BJP to make inroads into the Valley. And NC has once again made a strong comeback.
(Javaid Malik is Senior Editor Greater Kashmir)