PDP Believes It Is Increasingly Being Pushed To A Corner By Its Ally, The BJP
J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti cautions about any dilution of Article 35A of the Constitution. Agenda of PDP-BJP government pledges talks with separatists but there has been no progress so far.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has touched a raw nerve of her coalition partner, the BJP, by reviving her rhetoric of having assembly sittings in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Taking up the cause for conciliation, she suggested free flow of students and professionals from the other Kashmir or POK.
Mehbooba was speaking on the occasion of the 18th foundation day of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) in Srinagar last Saturday. She took strong exception to the National Investigative Agency's suggestion of putting an end to cross LOC trade aimed at stopping terror funding while emphasising such restrictions are not considered for Wagah.
She was vehemently against any such curbs as trade connected the two parts of a state divided between India and Pakistan. She warned that nobody will carry the national Tricolour in Kashmir if its special status was tampered with.
It was her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who tried doing the unthinkable --"bringing the North Pole and South Pole" together as he himself described it despite stout opposition to this in the PDP.
Undeterred by the misgivings of such a move in his own party, the Mufti believed this was the only viable option for him otherwise the sensitive border state would be starved of direly needed financial resources. Also, he could not have overlooked the glaring aspect that if the PDP triumphed in the Valley during the assembly elections, the BJP had virtually swept the Jammu region.
Impartial observers believe Mehbooba's message to her party workers is intended to uplift their spirits after being at the receiving end of street violence since it began last year. It has been invariably found that Kashmiris harden their approach towards the Centre whenever confronted by an internal crisis. It may be recalled former J&K chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had recently linked the state's special status to its accession to the country.
Inevitably, the Mehbooba's speech raised the temperature of the leaders of the saffron brigade, who felt it was a veiled attack against the RSS. Union minister Jitendra Singh was quick in terming Mehbooba's remarks against the national flag as "shocking and ridiculous". He affirmed that the "Tricolour is sacrosanct for us" and "it flies high in J&K as much as it does in any other part of the country".
BJP leaders in J&K who have been lying low for some time affirmed their demand for abrogating Article 35A and Article 370 according special status to J&K. Inexplicably, regional politics in the state has invariably tilted towards conciliation with Pakistan.
Therefore, it is believed the time has come to adopt a pragmatic and realistic approach. Mehbooba demanded opening of old routes rather than new ones along with having banking facilities and full body scanners for the trucks to be sure of what is coming into this country and going out.
Impartial observers believe BJP leaders in J&K misinterpreted Mehbooba's reference to Article 35A of the Constitution pertained to the fallout from any dilution of the provision which did not alter the only Muslim majority state's demographic composition. Article 35A defines J&K's permanent residents and their special rights and privileges.
She said the matter was before the Supreme Court and believed if Article 35A was tinkered with then there might be nobody in the Valley carrying the national flag. She took exception to demands for scrapping Article 35A while insisting that talks with all the stakeholders in the state has to be within the framework of the Constitution.
Therefore, Mehbooba's poser assumes importance with regard to how much of Kashmir can be accommodated on the basis on which India is founded. At the same time she was in favour of resuming the political initiative within the rules of engagement as enshrined in the Constitution.
The PDP believes it is being increasingly pushed to a corner by the BJP with the arrest of separatists and others in money laundering cases. The agenda of the PDP-BJP alliance pledges talks with the separatists for resolving the Kashmir dispute but there has not been any progress on that so far.