Mahbooba Mufti led government has been amply used and deposed, as has been the fate of many a preceding ruling regime in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. With it an alliance has been decimated after milking it to the extent of whatever it was worth. It is a tale and trail of betrayals, of broken faith, of promises that were never kept. It is a tale of accords running into discords, an agenda of alliance having served its purpose turning into an agenda of ouster.
It started with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (SMA) led government. SMA supported Maharaja Hari Singh's conditional accession. Nehru used it as people's endorsement of accession; by 1948 Indira Gandhi's note from Kashmir implied that SMA was treading on slippery ground. SMA however was fitting into Nehru's designs. In 1952 Delhi agreement, he conceded economic oversight. The widened role of judiciary was promised at a future date. It translated to bringing in JK state within the ambit of Indian Supreme Court. Disregarding UN resolutions on Kashmir, SMA had set in motion a constituent assembly to frame state's constitution and take a call state's accession.
In spite of SMA securing Kashmir for India on the political turf, by 1953 he had been used amply and finally deposed. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad followed him. He served to manage post-Abdullah disposition. Delhi however had much more on its agenda vis-à-vis Kashmir, which Bakshi could not deliver. Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq—his successor was tasked to implement the Articles 356 and 357 by sixth amendment of JK constitution in 1965. Articles 356 and 357 widened the Indian role in JK State. The nomenclature of Sadr-e-Riyasat (head of JK State) and Prime Minister of the state was changed to Governor and chief minister respectively, consistent with Indian states. While as Sadr-e-Riyasat was chosen by state assembly and formally nominated by President of India, the choice of nominating a Governor was left to the discretion of President, by implication GoI. Sadiq helped erode the special status, whatever was left of it.
Over the years, Mir Qasim, Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Mohammad Shah, Mufti Mohammad Syed, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah in their turn obliged in different ways, until constitution of JK state was severely eroded by implementation of series of Indian constitutional provisions. Special status remained, but in name. Mufti Mohamad Syed while stitching an alliance with BJP and naming it 'Agenda of Alliance (AoA)' should have known that as towering a figure as SMA could not pull through Indira-Abdullah accord, beyond serving what Delhi wanted him to. In such a scenario, to expect his political acumen would carry it through was to expect the impossible. His aspiration compared to what it ultimately turned out to be could be summed up by what he in fact called it—a meeting of North Pole and South Pole.
It was from the word go, an alliance heavily slated against Mufti's political outfit—PDP. His partner-BJP had the full weight of Delhi government behind it. Mufti's wider agenda of getting Delhi to talk to resistance leadership and reaching out to Pakistan got a rude shock from Modi. In a public meeting in Srinagar on November, the 7th, 2015, Modi rebuffed Mufti's overture by saying that he needs no advice, notwithstanding that approaching resistance leadership and Pakistan was implicit in AoA. On Mufti Syed's demise, Mahbooba tried her best to get Delhi's assurance on implementation of AoA. Apart from reaching out to resistance leadership and Pakistan, it entailed return of power projects. No assurance was forthcoming; instead there were threats of defection from her party.
In the power equation, Delhi held all the aces. Mahbooba took over without any assurances. She had to toe the Delhi line, though outwardly from time to time a meek voice of implementing AoA was heard. Financial and legal impediments were quoted by Delhi's power corridors, while denying returning power projects. Nothing meaningful was attempted to resolve the raging conflict by setting in a political process. Instead, Mahbooba Mufti was made to toe Delhi's masculine militaristic approach. And, she had tasks to carry out, as was true of her predecessors.
The financial autonomy of the state suffered a severe blow with the implementation of central GST, in spite of earlier promises to have a state GST in place. This was an abject surrender to Delhi's pressure. Mahbooba Mufti led regime failed to protect the state's constitutional turf on other counts. The state had its own statistics act 2010 for collection of statistical data, however the central act 'Collection of Statistics Act 2008' was amended and extended to provide Delhi a window to oversee the statistical data of J&K state and make effective use of it. Vis-à-vis the Central Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, Mahbooba led regime failed to work on and enact J&K State SARFAESI Act. A favourable High Court verdict implying central SARFAESI act to be void in J&K made it complacent, until Supreme Court overruled the High Court verdict. Timely incorporation of state SARFAESI act would have had the Apex Court focus on the state act instead of being guided solely by the central SARFAESI act. The act needed to be based on banks recovering their loans from defaulters without infringing on Article 35A, which preserves the right of state subjects to hold immovable property. Moreover debt servicing in Kashmir remains in quandary, given the business break in unsettled polity.
Mahbooba Mufti in effect served Delhi's interests, as much as her predecessors did.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]