K. Ramachandra Murthy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Kashmir policy has been shattered to pieces. In fact, it did not really work at all. The idea of the BJP having an alliance with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was meant for grandstanding by occupying high moral ground. The formation of the alliance between two unlikely friends three years ago was more surprising than its break-up on Tuesday. As long as Sayeed was around, Modi had no difficulty in dealing with him. Sayeed was a mature politician who worked as chief minister earlier and also handled the union home ministry. With the demise of Sayeed on 7 January 2016, his daughter Mehbooba, an impulsive politician, had taken over the government. She has more radical views than her father and had identified herself with pro-Azadi elements in the valley. She was not very comfortable leading the coalition government. The killing of Burhan Wani, the young commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, a Kashimiri militant group, in March 2015 had given a spurt to the militancy. Wani’s funeral was attended by thousands of emotional Kashmiris. The valley plunged into a deep crisis from which it never recovered. The Common Minimum Programme, drafted after months of deliberations, which was the basis for the BJP-PDP government, was implemented only in its breach.
The surgical strikes, one of the foreign policy stratagems of Modi about which he boasted in other countries as well, did not yield the desired results. If anything, the inflow of terrorists from across the border had only increased resulting in unrelenting bloodshed. The ceasefire declared on the eve of Ramadan was taken advantage of by the militants to recruit more boys and the terrorists to launch more attacks killing civilians and soldiers. The way senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari was gunned down in daylight at his office, speaks volumes about the law and order situation in the valley.
Mehbooba Mufti appeared relieved after she submitted her resignation to the Governor. Talking to the media after quitting as chief minister, she made it clear that muscular policy adopted by the NDA government cannot succeed in Jammu and Kashmir. She said her party believed in ‘healing touch’ policy. Mehbooba also emphasised that she wanted to improve relations with Pakistan. She said she still believed in the policy of dialogue and reconciliation. Claiming that her government had worked for the welfare of the people, she said the unilateral ceasefire was part of the great vision she had before joining hands with the BJP to form the government. She was insisting on reducing the presence of paramilitary forces in Kashmir.
The gap between PDP and the BJP has been widening by the day. The BJP’s decision to withdraw from the coalition government was unexpected although the fall of the government was quite expected. Having failed to produce results in Kashmir with the Mehbooba dispensation in place, Modi had to find an alternative method to restore normality in the valley. It was clear to him that he cannot go to 2019 polls in partnership with the PDP. The NDA government has to achieve something to show to the people during the election campaign. Modi or the party president Amit Shah should have consulted Mehbooba before pulling the rug from under her feet. She has been reasonable, patient and pragmatic all through the three years of alliance with the BJP. She is justified if she feels let down. Blaming her for the failure of the law and order in the valley is a bit unkind given the fact that it is mostly remote controlled by the union home ministry. Governor Vora has experience and a conducive attitude to improve matters in the troubled valley.