No phone call, no text, not even an e-mail. The Bharatiya Janata Party communicated its decision to dump the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir in a news conference on the afternoon of Tuesday, 19 June.
“It is untenable for BJP to continue its alliance with PDP in Jammu & Kashmir... Despite all assistance from the Centre, the PDP has not been successful in fulfilling its promises to the people of Jammu and Kashmir”, announced BJP’s J&K state in-charge Ram Madhav.
Outwitted and out of options, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned, ringing the death knell for the alliance that was deemed “anti-national”, even “unholy” by the Opposition.
Here’s separating the political rhetoric from the facts:
- Opportunity to take the higher moral ground on the killing of Shujaat Bukhari.
- Modi government’s offer to cease operations for the month of Ramzan backfired with the murder of rifleman Aurangzeb and four BSF personnel in separate attacks.
- It will allow the BJP to rake up its demand to dissolve Article 370 ahead of the 2019 election.
- Consolidate its voter base in Jammu, which was anyway polarised after the Kathua gangrape case.
- Take a lead on the PDP, pin the blame on the alliance partner for the escalating violence in the Valley.
Where Does the PDP Stand Now?
- Outsmarted, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti submitted her resignation to the governor.
- She attacked the BJP’s ‘muscular politics’, said the Centre cannot treat Kashmir like ‘enemy territory’.
- She also claimed credit for the unilateral ceasefire and the defence of Article 370.
- Politically, the BJP’s polarisation narrative could also work in Mufti’s favour.
- Mufti could bank upon her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s legacy to remind the people of Kashmir about her political roots.
What About the Congress?
- This is Rahul Gandhi’s ‘I told you so’ moment. The Congress will claim it stands vindicated in calling the PDP-BJP alliance ‘unholy’.
- The Congress is unlikely to dump the National Conference and ally with the PDP. In doing so, it will try and send a positive message to existing and prospective allies.
- But, fact remains, the Congress with its 12 MLAs and the PDP with 15 MLAs do not have the numbers to form the government.
- Even with the support of the CPI(M) (1 MLA), the J&K People’s Democratic Front (1 MLA) and the Independents (5 MLAs), the alliance would be 10 MLAs short of the required 44 MLAs in the 87-member Assembly.
What About the Immediate Future of J&K?
- The state will come under Governor’s Rule.
- The state election could be held along with the upcoming Lok Sabha election. But this will depend on whether the Assembly is dissolved and placed under suspended animation.