The PDP president Mehbooba Mufti insisted she won't enter into alliance unless her demands are met. Soon her father Mufti Muhammad Sayid passed away, the chief ministerial chair, in a dynastic tradition, smiled on her: But she held herself back from its attractive pulls.
Mehbooba had decided not to relent and made up her mind to stick to what some called `a principled stand'. It looked like a chapter from Geelani's book.
'We are not power thirsty like NC', was the message signalled from her. But that didn't happen. Unfortunately.
It was a calculated move by Mehbooba to raise the bar and see how BJP responds. The new posturing conveyed that PDP has realized that alliance with BJP has considerably eroded its political base in valley and it was not prepared, what Mehbooba Ji said, ' to burn her fingers for nothing'. In other words , unless BJP meets her conditions, the stalemate would continue. The PDP, let it be emphasized, did not lay any new condition. It only wanted the terms agreed in Alliance Agenda be implemented before formation of a new government, like transfer of two power projects to JK state, revocation of AFSPA, economic packages and revival of the process of reconciliation and engagement. Put in simple, reconciliation means engaging with Hurriyat and Pakistan, the stake holders within and beyond the line of control. That only can happen when there are no restrictions on Hurriyat leadership and they are given access to people. That is the essence of ' Goli nahein, boli' slogan late Mufti was infatuated with.
Mufti sneezed out his 'look-different' intention when he ordered release of Masarat Aalam and directed constitutional personalities to display state flag in offices and on their vehicles, but was forced to retreat. After tasting sweetness of surrender, he forgot everything. Not only the poll manifesto, mutually agreed terms of the Alliance Agenda as well. As he embraced the slippery post, the communalist BJP began to impose his agenda and spread its branches in valley. Forget about any perceptible change in the political and security scenario, the last one year of PDP's hug with RSS not only created a sense of siege in Muslim majority Kashmir (which hitherto has dreaded Muslims in India), a section in the PDP was reading from it the threat to party's future prospects as well.
The death of her father handed over the leadership baton to Mehbooba. She knew the trust deficit her party has suffered and began, at least it seemed, brooding the measures to improve on the past follies. She firmed herself on a strong plank and went into sulking mode. She portrayed herself a leader unwilling to make compromises for sake of power. She made it known, or seemed to, that she was a leader who can take cudgels with BJP to safeguard the constituency priorities if the situation so warranted. She asked New Delhi to ' go beyond ownership of land… go deep into the reason for mounting alienation especially among the youth.. invest in JK's peace , own and acknowledge the pain and suffering of people and not look Kashmir issue through security prism alone'( GK, March 6, 20016). Through these words Mehbooba signalled that she was a leader fully conscious of the disputable nature of K issue and wanted Delhi take, in her words, 'decisive confidence-building measures' to resolve it. Through that kind of stand she aimed (or wanted to delude us into believing) to wrest political concessions, so that she has something to show for face saving.
Alas, she has to return empty handed from Delhi. Modi did not commit himself even to time frame for implementation of Agenda Alliance. Her bluster that ' she would burn her fingers for nothing' vanished like ice cream on a scorching summer. The hunger of power neutralized all her resilience and resistance. She agreed to work on the already settled wages.
Tail piece: Power lust makes giants fall into pygmies. Remember the short-time sulk Sheikh Abdullah went in to show case his displeasure in not addressing him as Prime Minister of JK (no matter even if the post is emasculated of real authority). He refused to attend the swearing-in ceremony. But has to come out of the his sulk only two hours later. Indra Ji won't relent. He scurried to Raj Bhavan to be sworn in as 'chief minister' of JK state. Twenty two years of resistance he dusted off as ' political wilderness'. He lived for seven years to enjoy power. For such a deceitful kiss, the one time legendary leader frittered away his iconic stature. The seven year's wait could have made him immortal, the Umar Mukhtar of Kashmir, and may be the situation we are caught in would have been different. But that was not in store for him. History neither forgets nor forgives.