The BJP-PDP alliance is back in power after a suspense of over three months during which time many speculations gained ground. Sometimes PDP seemed disinterested in the continuation of the alliance and the same was deemed as having ended with the death of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. But, at other times it was rumoured that both the parties were involved in ironing out their differences to form the government. There was however, no clarity and the general public remained uncertain about the political developments that may shape up. A possibility of the PDP joining the Congress and some independents to form the government was also strongly remoured. People were busy involved in working out permutation combinations for such an alliance. The general public feeling was strongly in favour of such an alliance as it ensured keeping the BJP and other extremist Hindu elements at an arm's distance.
However, these rumours died down soon as it was clear that the BJP and the PDP leadership was busy in forming the government, which they eventually did on 4th April when Mehbooba Mufti was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of the State.
The general public was "amused if not surprised" at these developments as they felt that the pause of 3 months during which a suspense was sought to be created about the alliance relations between the PDP and the BJP, was a sheer waste of time and the attitude of PDP leadership was the one of being taking the people of the State for a ride.
As expected, there was no progress on demands such as transfer of power projects by the Central Government to the State. No financial or economic package nor any hindsight about the willingness of the Centre to start political dialogue with separatists. The rhetoric that there was already a Memorandum of Understanding between the two, has not gone down well with the people. So, one has but to agree to the fact that the BJP leadership remained steadfast in refusing the PDP any concession and Mehbooba had to eat humble pie and accept the old arrangement of coalition. Thus, it was politically a huge snub for PDP and the BJP quetely carried the day.
One will continue to remain curious why Mehbooba took three long months to form the Government? Though no one will answer these questions from either parties, nor will anyone at the helm will care to do so, however, these could well form tangible issues with people when the Ananatnag Parliamentary and the Bijbehara Assembly constituencies will go to the poll in next few months.
In the new government that has taken over on 4th April, the PDP has by and large retained the same team as existed when the senior Mufti was at the helm. Seemingly, no thought has gone into the performance of ministers during their earlier stint although they did not enjoy the public appreciation even as the Senior Mufti toiled hard despite serious health hazards. The common public perception was that the coalition government did not perform well. Even senior journalist like Ghulam Nabi Khayal had remarked that the irony with Mufti Saheb was that while he toiled hard despite poor health, his limbs (ministers) could not keep pace with his working. With the result, the government could not deliver. As said, what Mr. Khayal had remarked was no different from the common public perception that then prevailed. It was therefore, expected that Mufti will dwell seriously into this aspect while deciding on her team of ministers. The only omission in the new cabinet is that of Altaf Bukhari, the most visible minister on the ground during Mufti's period. His omission seems to be prompted by internal strife within the PDP. Otherwise, he had earned public liking for his working.
These developments show that all is not well within the party and Mehbooba chose to keep down the disquiet within the PDP ranks and go along with the team her father had chosen. One has to be fair to Mehbooba Mufti in the sense that she has to hold the government and her party together. She has to carefully handle elements like Tariq Qarra who are not only opposed to the coalition with the BJP but are sore at some party men having been retained as ministers in the present cabinet. Within the senior ranks of the party, there hardly appears to be a person who can command sufficient public respect and support to handle party matters. This could well be a big drawback with Mehbooba Mufti. Therefore times ahead are quite tough one for her.