Game is over
After nearly three and a half years the coalition government has come to an end. It was a conclusion waiting to disclose itself. The North and the South poles only meet in poetry (an inebriated variety) not in the world of hard self-interests. There are many reasons given for the sudden break up: the coalition was wobbly from the beginning and it just flat-lined after the Ramzan ceasefire, the BJP is losing ground in the Jammu province and is trying to make ground with this decision, the killing of the veteran journalist and Chief Editor of Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari, the next year's Parliament election, the Kathua rape and murder of Asifa, muscular approach of the ruling party in center, regional parties deserting the more centrist BJP etc. Each of these probably contributed to the eventual snapping of ties. However, if one were to look for one single-most important reason for the break up of the coalition, it is none of these but one which is elsewhere. With memory diminishing, attention narrowing, and hard-ball nationalism growing, it is easy to get lost in the optics and rhetoric that holds supreme all over the media.
Srinagar-Delhi poles apart
The reason is that whether it is National Conference or Peoples Democratic Party, their alliance with any centrist party is fraught with basic contradictions. The two are not just like other regional parties, which are asking for a greater federal nature of the governance structures. These two parties are rooted in the discourse of Kashmir conflict whose origins go back to the partition of the subcontinent. The mainstay of the National Conference is Autonomy, a return to the pre-1953 arrangement between Delhi and Srinagar. For the PDP, the pivot is the slogan of the Self-Rule. Without autonomy and self-rule, it is difficult to understand the genesis and growth of these two parties. So they are not, in principal vying for more funds or more share of the powers, but a fundamental change in the alignment between Delhi and Srinagar. The TDP came out of the coalition with the BJP because the latter did not grant the special provisions that the former was demanding within the ambit of the constitution. The same is case in Maharashtra and some other states in North East, in which the regional parties are complaining about the lack of adjustment of their demands. However, all their demands are within the perimeter of the Indian constitution. Hence, the urge to form a non-Congress, non-BJP block in the forthcoming Parliament elections. However, the two regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir are thinking beyond the constitution, or at least tempering with the constitution for a permanent end to the conflict and bloodshed in the region, and lending a sense of self-respect and dignity to the Kashmiri subject.
So any coalition, from either of these parties, with the two major national parties, is unholy to begin with. Because in that case, without any attention paid to their cause of existence, the sacred principles of their respective parties are compromised. Unholy is something which goes against the holy features of that thing or entity. Self-Rule and Autonomy are apparently holy articles for these parties, which have been used to gain the good wishes of people, which have been deployed to win the popularity and the seats; in other words these articles constitute the raison d etre of these parties. Whether it is Congress-NC, Congress-PDP or the latest variety PDP-BJP, these coalitions are essentially flawed, in which the fundamental differences are temporarily papered over under the immediate interest of power, but the same raise their head once elections are near or there is a fear of the core constituency slipping from under the feet. Hence, such alliances are not just morally outrageous but also the ones which fuel further distrust and alienation, and instil a general sense of despair and disillusionment. Call them Agenda of Alliance or Common Minimum Program, they are merely masks to cover the unholy lust for power and the illicit desire to run roughshod over the foundational motives of existence.
To break this repeated nexus between unholy partners it was worthwhile for these two parties to make a common cause and struggle for the larger interests of the people, state and the region as a whole. However, the tragedy is that has not happened and is not likely to happen. There were times when it was easier to do, when the incessant spillage of blood on the streets and lanes of Kashmir made it possible to bridge the gulf and demand from Delhi peace and stability for a larger good. The occasions were 2008, 2010 and 2016, three years which had united the majority of the state. But that did not take place. In the interests of the state, and in the interest of the common people who are longing for a permanent peace, it is far holier if the two parties come together than flirt with the shark-parties of Delhi.
Future is Past
Now whether there is Governor's rule or any other party is invited form govt. or elections are conducted, the future is as good as past. The dye has been cast. The situation today, at least in some parts of Kashmir, resembles the early 1990s. You are safe if you remain quiet or you will end up like Shujaat Bukhari, whose sane voice was silenced in broad daylight. The borders are afire. The ceasefire is over and the guns are aboom.
Unless there is concurrent and uninterrupted dialogue between Delhi and Srinagar, and Delhi and Islamabad, there is not even a remote chance that any sign of sustainable peace will emerge. And if any other unholy alliance is forged, future will be bleak and a re-run of the past. The Governor is a familiar figure in Kashmir as familiar as the viceroy was in Pre-47 India. He is there always, sometimes active behind the shadows, and sometimes, like now, working out there in the open. There will be no dirge on the coalition. That had begun the day it took off.