When talks were on last winter on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, Mehbooba Mufti had gone into a shell, refusing to attend any meeting.
From day one, the PDP president was reluctant for an alliance with the BJP.
Ten months later, after her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away, she asks: “Why should I burn my fingers for nothing?”
Indicating her reluctance to pick up the threads of engagement with the BJP, Mehbooba told dna over phone: “Instead of being tied up in an alliance in which I cannot do anything for the people, it is better to start afresh.”
The BJP may lob the ball in PDP’s court saying it is committed to the agenda of alliance, which is for six years, and that Mehbooba should first spell out her stand.
The party is unwilling to succumb to pressure from the PDP and give new assurances, sources said, adding that there has been no formal communication between the parties.
A day before the deadline set by governor NN Vohra to clear their stand on the issue of government formation in the state, BJP state leaders headed to the capital to meet party president Amit Shah and general secretary Ram Madhav.
The uncertainty on the fate of the alliance deepened on Sunday after Mehbooba’s meeting with her party leaders in Srinagar. “Only to work for people and the Agenda of Alliance was the best tool in such a situation, which the 2014 mandate demanded. But, if I am not convinced that Agenda of Alliance will be implemented, I will start afresh, alone… I will have no regrets if I am alone to work for my people,”she said at the meeting.
She also said that, going by the experience of past months, “we will have to reassess whether we can absorb the shocks which Mufti Sahab had to do so frequently in his effort to forge reconciliation between the regions and the people of the state.”
The strange bedfellows– PDP and BJP– cannot see eye-to-eye on several issues. The PDP is particularly concerned about three issues– AFSPA, Article 370 and power projects.
What seems to have piqued the PDP is not just ideological differences with the BJP, but even simple courtesies that could have been shown to Mufti.
PDP sources pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not visit Mufti when he was admitted to the AIIMS but had called on Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal when he was admitted to a hospital in Chandigarh.
As per the agenda of alliance, the “coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying ‘disturbed areas’. This, as a consequence, would enable the Union government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas.”
The PDP now wants time-bound review of AFSPA and its revocation, at least from two places. The BJP had agreed to set up a review committee, but the party is unlikely to give further assurances, sources said.
Another issue which the PDP is determined to oppose is renewing lease for land given to security forces in the state.
The agenda for alliance says “all lands other than those given to security forces on the basis of lease, licences and acquisition under the provision of the Land Acquisition Act shall be returned to the rightful legal owners, except in a situation where retaining land is absolutely imperative in view of a specific security requirement.” However, the BJP is hesitant to give any time-bound assurance on it.
The PDP also wants the BJP to keep its word on securing “a share in the profits of NHPC emanating from J&K waters to the state government”, which figures in the agenda for alliance.
RSS front organisations started petitioning in courts on Article 370, on which the agenda of alliance was also silent, keeping in mind the sentiments in the valley.
What disturbed even Mufti during his last days was that BJP national secretary Farooq Khan petitioned against the hoisting of the state flag in the Jammu bench of the J&K High Court.
PDP is still looking at a one-to-one meeting between Mehbooba and Modi as a way to resolve the differences. She wants the PM to restrain BJP from creating “problems” as they did during her father’s regime, sources said. In the last 10 months, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed failed to recreate the aura of governance that he was known for in 2002-05, during his first term as chief minister.
Another cause of resentment in PDP was that against the promise of a Rs 46,000-crore flood package, the centre gave Rs 2,000 crore, and, that too, in November, when winter sets in, sources said. The total relief given so far is Rs 10,774 crore.