Dangerous game

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s resignation has come in the wake of allegations levelled against him by Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) leader Muzaffar Baig on the floor of the J&K Assembly. Baig has alleged that Abdullah’s name figures in a list of people under investigation by CBI for involvement in a sex scandal in Kashmir that came to light in 2006. Abdullah did the morally right thing by resigning in the wake of the allegations. However, now that the Union home ministry and the CBI have clarified that he was not under investigation in the scandal, he must take back his resignation. Not to do so would plunge this sensitive state into a crisis.

Baig’s conduct is deplorable. He hurled serious allegations maligning the character of the chief minister when he didn’t have a shred of evidence. As a Supreme Court lawyer and a former deputy chief minister, Baig should have acted more responsibly. What is particularly galling is that although Abdullah’s name has been cleared, the PDP isn’t willing to accept this. Instead of apologising, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has gone a step further, tearing to shreds a CBI letter clearing Abdullah’s name. Only on Monday, Mufti had behaved in an utterly unseemly manner in the House when she hurled the Speaker’s mike on the floor.

The PDP’s shrill protests and its adoption of a combative and disruptive stance in recent months suggest that the party is still to come to terms with its defeat in the assembly elections. Having lost power, it is determined to destabilise the government, disrupt governance and plunge the state in chaos. For several months now, it has joined hands with the separatists to paralyse life in the Valley with its protests over the rape and murder of two women by security personnel in Shopian. While it is right in speaking up on the issue, its reluctance to condemn the killing of a three-year-old boy by militants last week has raised troubling questions over its agenda. Is the PDP, desperate to weaken the National Conference government, slipping slowly into an embrace of the separatists?
There are many constructive issues that the PDP can raise to raise its profile in J&K. Disruptive conduct might help it score points with the separatists but it must bear in mind that the latter are themselves marginalised in J&K’s political space. The PDP is playing a dangerous game by adopting these desperate measures.

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