PDP after Mufti Saeed

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Not long ago, National Conference (NC) was an overwhelming voice of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. For about seven decades, the NC dominated the political landscape of all the three regions of the state. Today, we see it as just one among various political groups—virtually battling for survival. The NC’s fall from grace is not abrupt. It is due to its long history of compromising its position on principles for power. Joining hands with BJP in 1999, which brought Omar Abdullah to political limelight for having been inducted in BJP-led government in Delhi, was the actual culmination. Majority of the people here came to view it as ‘character issue’ rather than some honest mistake or miscalculation by NC leadership. The venom people poured out in 2002 Assembly elections against the nonchalant rather casual leadership of National Conference could be understood from their preference of choosing (then) not-so-popular—Mufti Mohammad Saeed. If there is a lesson in NC’s downfall it is that people have scant respect for the parties and leaders who fail to set the example they are expected to. It goes without saying that Mufti Mohammad Saeed set a new standard in governance that made people think that their choice was not bad. It was for the first time that New Delhi, instead of issuing diktats, likened to hear from a chief minister from Jammu and Kashmir. Despite being in minority in government with the Congress in the state, Mufti Mohammad Saeed always looked in control of things—making Congress play only second fiddle. It was for this fact that in 2008 assembly elections Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) increased its member-count in the assembly (from 16 in 2002) to 22. In 2014 elections the PDP’s score went up to 28—the highest of all parties in the House. This time PDP chose to go with BJP (second largest party in the House) to form the government; perhaps to make Congress pay for having chosen to go with the National Conference in 2008. But for PDP things did not go the 2002-way. The BJP’s aggressive posturing on key issues directly related with the sentiments of the state’s majority community took the toll on Mufti and his party. But the master planner, Mufti was known as, still managed to keep on his grip on the government giving PDP some benefit of doubt. However, his death on January 7, 2015, virtually dealt a severe blow to whatever the remains of the PDP. Nothing worse could have happened to the PDP than the sudden demise of Mufti Mohammad Saeed. Although there is no doubt PDP, in real, owes its popularity and rise mostly to Mahbooba Mufti but this too can be termed as an ironical fact that to a large extent she has to be blamed for the downfall of the popular graph of the party. One had expected that Mahbooba Mufti could take advantage of the chief minister’s office and strengthen her position as a credible and dependable voice of Kashmir. But she, for all probabilities, proved otherwise. Today she is not even a pale shadow of her yester-year’s self. She, it seems has been feeling helpless in reining in her coalition leaders, particularly the ministers of her government who have been acting independently, many a time going against the basic of the coalition dharma. On almost all the issues, that the PDP had been raising in the past and for which people of Kashmir extended their support to the party have been either forgotten or put in cold storage. Instead of making New Delhi to fulfil the promises which the two coalition partners have agreed upon in the Agenda of Alliance, the chief minister seems to be rather defensive. In the agenda of alliance it has been clearly stated that no attempt would be made to disturb the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir but the fact remains that BJP leaders have all along been reiterating their party’s stand of bringing an end to the special status of the state and merge Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian union, that goes against the spirit of the alliance charter but also against the constitution of the state and that of Indian union. However so far we have not heard any strong voice coming from the PDP against this onslaughtby the BJP. Similarly, the return of the power projects to the state that formed an important issue of the agenda of two parties has been virtually allowed to die after the union power minister turned down the demand. On the domestic front also the chief minister is yet to demonstrate her strength and power and assert like her father used to do. Her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed would never have liked the situation that is obtaining in Kashmir today. He would have rather walked out of the government than going against his own people.

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