PDP is facing desertions, amidst efforts to rebuild the party. The rebuilding effort is taking Mehbooba Mufti to quarters, which have been her hunting grounds in the past. She has restarted making rounds to families of militants. However mainstream credentials are maintained by highlighting Gandhi's India, while belittling Zia-ul-Haq's Pakistan. In a spectacle of contrasts, phone call is placed to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq; and the attempt to challenge Jamia Masjid pulpit by some masked young men is condemned. It evokes a retort. The resistance forces are quick to recall closure of Jamia Masjid mosque for three months during her rule in 2016. Nor has anyone forgotten PDP coalition with BJP. Mehbooba Mufti seems to be alluding to the maxim that a week is a long time in politics, hoping that people will forget, and she could reshape her dwindling party.
Post-election tie-up with BJP in 2014 cost the party its moorings. Reaching out to BJP was justified on the ground of providing connect to some plain JK districts, beyond the hills. The valley was hardly mollified, neither large swathes of Chenab Basin and Pir Panchal. PDP had got the numbers making it the single largest party, on a general understanding of keeping BJP out. BJP with Arun Jaitley providing the lead was eying the magic 44 to make the numbers for running the state on its own. Jaitley had his heart set on five lotuses from the vale, translating to five seats to make the numbers. It provided the affront for many to cast the vote, including the ones who are not normally inclined to participate in electoral process. As post-electoral events unfolded, it was evident that PDP had duped the electorate. Muftis followed the Abdullah lead of tying knot with the party in power in Delhi.
JK mainstream works on the dictum of keeping to the right of Delhi's power combine. Over last two decades, it has either been BJP led NDA or Congress led UPA. From Abdullahs' to Muftis' it has a common vein. Farooq Abdullah in an act of misplaced bravado allied to forces opposing Indira Gandhi in early eighties. He carried the impression that the general acceptance of patriarch of Abdullah's—Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (SMA) would rub on him. It did to an extent; however he had miscalculated on the role of agencies. What held true in 1953 could hold in 1984 as well. Like SMA, Farooq was toppled, replaced by his nemesis—Glulam Mohammad Shah. Mufti Syed was a part of engineered change, hence well-groomed in Delhi's reach. Farooq learned his lesson, and reached out to Rajiv Gandhi, working out a coalition with Congress. Post 1996, he allied with BJP led NDA, finding a place for his son—Omar Abdullah in Delhi ministry. Muftis were much more adept to follow the mainstream dictum of keeping to the right of regime in Delhi's power corridors.
The dictum has to have a public face. Call it Indira-Abdullah accord, Rajiv Farooq accord or Muftis' agenda of alliance (AoA) it hardly makes a difference. As these so called accords have a weak political grounding, it does not take long for accords to turn into discords. Indira-Abdullah accord had hollowness written over it from the word go. Rajiv-Farooq accord melted with the onset of militancy in 1989. And, Muftis' AoA carried the insignia of North Pole meeting South Pole, an impossible speculation. The man Mufti chose to represent him in working out AoA, Haseeb Drabu, was a political upstart. A person with the wile and guile of Mirza Afzal Beg failed to convince Parthasarthy of the desirability of giving SMA a face saving political device. Drabu, face to face with battle hardened RSS parcharak—Ram Madhav could hardly be expected to get Muftis a reprieve, something they could sell. AoA held the promise of 'K' talks with stakeholders, return of power projects as well. However, promises materialize between equals. Ram Madhav knew from the word go that his side doesn't have to keep, what was promised.
On November, the 7th 2015, Narendra Modi in a Srinagar public address torpedoed AoA by telling Mufti Syed to his face that he doesn't need any advice. Mufti had alluded to 'K' talks with stakeholders. AoA was thus buried barely months after it was announced. Vis-à-vis power projects, federal power minister–Piyush Goyal cited financial and legal impediments in their return. Muftis' man Friday Drabu proved to be just the dream merchant; NC's Davendra Rana had accused him of being in one of the assembly sessions. He could not even make good his propagated financial expertise. The expertise translated to boast of squeezing more and more central funds, without an effort to work-out a self-sustaining economy. The promise of working out a GST tailored to state's need was a finesse taken to implement central GST in 'Toto'. It effectively ended state's financial autonomy, whatever was left of it. It didn't stop there. Putting another nail in PDP coffin, Drabu cast Kashmir as a society with social issues, a far cry from the raging dispute. Desertion followed as PDP was seen to be sinking. Kashmir is not short on its Aya Rams' and Gaya Rams' some of whom jump from one mainstream ship to another, and some from resistance realm to mainstream.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]