New Delhi, June 19: The BJP pulled out of the alliance it shared with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in J-K on Tuesday, forcing Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to tender her resignation to the Governor. In its press conference, the BJP, through its national general secretary Ram Madhav, explained what forced its hand. Madhav said, “Keeping in mind the larger interest of India’s security and integrity, the fact is that J&K is an integral part of India, in order to bring control over the situation prevailing in the state we have decided that the reigns of power in the state be handed over to the Governor.”
While the tipping point may be the unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan that failed completely and towards its end, saw the brutal killing of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari and Army jawan Aurangzeb, the relationship between the allies has been rocky since the beginning. The call for the ceasefire was the second in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2000, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajaypee had also declared a unilateral ceasefire for Ramzan which was then extended for five more months and ended in May 2001. Terror-related incidents increased during the current ceasefire.
Earlier, the PDP had threatened to pull out of the coalition over the issue of two BJP ministers openly supporting the Hindu Ekta Manch which was demanding a CBI inquiry into the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district. The BJP had to ask both the ministers to resign from Cabinet. (Also read: Omar Abdullah Meets GovernorVohra)
For over a year now, the allies have had a tumultuous relationship, widely reported in the media, over mob violence and rising militancy. One major issue was each side’s approach towards stone-pelters and mob violence. The BJP’s approach was what the PDP called “confrontationist” politics and the PDP’s approach is what the BJP called “appeasement” politics. The BJP had been asking Mufti to go tough against stone-pelters. A report in the Times of India said that police and security agences were complaining about the confusion at the top level. “When we arrest stone-pelters, we face enormous political pressure to release them because some of the stone-pelters are from both the PDP and the NC. Both parties use their own influence to subvert law and order,” said a senior police officer to the daily.
Moreover, the general perception in Kashmir was that Mufti had been reduced to a titular head by the Modi government. “It was an incompatible partnership between two antagonistic parties, to begin with. The BJP is the political arm of the RSS, a Hindu right wing organization that has aspirations of turning secular India into a Hindu nation,” a disgruntled PDP leader had said to the daily.
The PDP had been harping on talks with separatists and Pakistan. On multiple occasions, Mufti had stressed on the need for talks to resolve the issues. So the PDP attributed the unrest in Kashmir to the BJP’s decision to discontinue political engagement with separatists and Pakistan. The relations hit a new low when the BJP general secretary Ram Madhav defended the Army’s decision to tie a stone-pelter to an armored vehicle to rescue soldiers. The two parties had formed a coalition government with Mufti as the Chief Minister in 2015 after elections led to a hung assembly but the rift was all too obvious.