Mehbooba govt will face greater strain

Mehbooba govt will face greater strain

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti took as much time to re-enter an alliance with the BJP to form a government in Jammu & Kashmir as her late father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed took to form the coalition after the 2014 assembly elections in the state. There was always a reluctance to call the arrangement an alliance because of the completely dissimilar, and even contradictory, profiles of the two parties. The 10 months of cohabitation have not reduced the distance between them but both seem to have decided that it is better to work together in the present circumstances than to part their ways. Mehbooba and some other leaders have a sense that the party has suffered and its interests were hit because of the alliance with the BJP. There was an opinion within the party that it was politically better for it to break the ties. It was also felt that Mehbooba may not be able to manage the alliance as well as her father did.

That was perhaps why Mehbooba wanted some assurances from the central leadership of the BJP and some concessions from the NDA government before she agreed to revive the alliance, kept in suspense after her father’s death. The Agenda of Alliance formulated last year by the two parties was more an idle document than a guide for governance. The PDP wanted some action or progress on its demands like more Central funds, shifting of the army from civilian areas and even fruitful talks with Pakistan on resolution of the Kashmir problem. The BJP wanted the government to be formed first and discussions on the demands to be held later. After the long standoff and many rounds of talks, including Mehbooba’s talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, no firm assurances seem to have been made.

The PDP, however, may have decided that the balance of advantage is in favour of forming a government. The state is under the governor’s rule for the past 9 weeks, and a representative and democratic government is needed there. The decision to form a government is therefore welcome. The PDP-BJP alliance is not a natural combination. The differences between the 2 parties may have only widened in the last 1 year. The militancy situation is the state has worsened and the political environment outside it has become more vitiated. One major responsibility for the new government is to improve the situation in the Valley. Another challenge is to remain unaffected by the vitiated politics outside the state. It is likely that the new government will be under greater strain than the previous one.

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