For PDP-BJP coalition, a difficult and twisty road ahead
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed taking oath as J&K CM.
While the BJP has toned down its criticism of Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed over the release of Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam, the two partners in the coalition government remain politically and ideologically poles apart, and have to tread a difficult path on several crucial issues.
Alam’s release was a small step, but it exposed the fragility of the relationship between the two coalition partners. Senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig had earlier told The Indian Express that the ambiguity in the agenda for governance wasn’t good for the alliance. “I would have preferred a clear-cut statement and more clarity. There are several issues that can be interpreted by each party in its own way,” he had said.
Sources in both parties said a difference in interpretation could lead to fresh problems on the following issues:
Dialogue with Hurriyat
The CMP isn’t clear about direct Centre-Hurriyat talks. The BJP was opposed to talking exclusively to the Hurriyat, while the PDP was very keen to promise that.
The common minimum programme says the coalition government would follow “the same principles” as those of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government to “facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders”. This puts the Hurriyat in the larger group of “stakeholders”, which, by the Centre’s definition, has in the past included groups like the Dal lake shikara union, traders’ bodies, tourism groups, social sector NGOs, and every shade of mainstream politicians.
While only Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat has joined a dialogue process with the Centre earlier, they have never agreed to be part of a process where New Delhi would be talking with other parties, especially the mainstream groups, as well.
The CMP says that “the situation in the state has improved vastly and to build the greater public confidence in its sustainability, people of the state must be able to get the peace and normalcy dividend”. PDP and BJP differ as to the meaning of “peace and normalcy dividend”. The PDP believes that the release of detenues like Alam is part of the dividend.
West Pakistan Refugees
On the West Pakistan Refugee (WPR) issue, the two parties interpret the consensus in the CMP differently. While PDP says that to “take measures for sustenance and livelihood of West Pakistan Refugees” isn’t a promise to grant them state subject status, the BJP reads it in the opposite way. Even the most recent WPRs have been living in the state for more than 40 years, and if the Mufti government promises to “take measures for their livelihood and sustainability”, it can only be interpreted as making them eligible for government jobs and other rights. And if the state government makes WPRs eligible for government jobs or provides them with housing or land as part of the CMP promise, it will mean that they are already state subjects.
The promise to “constitute a delimitation commission for delimiting of the legislative assembly constituencies as required by law” is interpreted differently by the PDP and BJP. While BJP thinks it is a promise to start the process immediately, PDP thinks that the requirement to follow law means that the process won’t start before 2026. The question is this: if the coalition government isn’t planning to set up a delimitation commission during its six-year tenure, why was it included in the CMP?
On the issue of the migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who are an important constituency for the BJP and RSS, there isn’t clarity in the CMP. In its “Social and Humanitarian Initiatives” segment, the CMP says, “…Ensuring the return of Kashmiri Pandits with dignity based on their rights as state subjects and reintegrating as well as absorbing them in the Kashmiri milieu. Reintegration will be a process that will start within the state as well as the civil society, by taking the community into confidence.” While the PDP-BJP coalition has rejected the idea of a separate homeland for KPs inside the Valley, it is unclear what reintegration means, and how it might be achieved. That unanswered question holds the potential for serious fissures.
Source:: Indian Express