The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) staged a protest here on Thursday, demanding immediate dissolution of the assembly. BJP to the PDP -led alliance government last month put the Jammu & Kashmir assembly under suspended animation after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned following the withdrawal of support.
Led by JKNPP chairman Harsh Dev Singh, scores of activists and leaders staged a protest at the Exhibition Ground in Jammu.
The party accused the central government of indulging in proxy rule through the governor, and sought immediate dissolution of the assembly to allow conduct of fresh election. Addressing the media, Singh said there were reports that the BJP was wooing rival party legislators to encourage defections by unethical practices.
Alleging that the prolonged suspension of the assembly was illegal and defied all constitutional precedents, Singh said that so far no political party or a plausible alliance had staked claim to form the government. “In such a situation, the dissolution of assembly was inevitable and required immediate attention of the governor and the president of India,” he added.
The PDP-BJP coalition, which was wobbly from the start, flat-lined just days after the central government decided not to extend the Ramdan ceasefire on anti-terror operations. The peace initiative was Mehbooba Mufti’s idea. “We brought in unilateral ceasefire which brought a lot of relief to the people. We can’t have a muscular policy in Jammu and Kashmir. We weren't a part of an alliance just for power,” Mehbooba Mufti had said after the BJP decided to pull the plug on the alliance. According of political experts, as the alliance was a “marriage of conflicting ideologies,” it had been a question of who would walk out first.
It was the BJP’s second split this year after Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) ended its alliance in Andhra Pradesh. In Kashmir, it was, however, the BJP that severed ties with PDP. When party chief Amit Shah met with Jammu and Kashmir lawmakers in Delhi on June 21 morning, there had hardly been any indication about the decision. Explaining the abruptness, Ram Madhav had referred to reasons like deteriorating security and “discrimination” against Jammu and Ladakh.
The rift between the J&K alliance partners widened after the rape of an eight-year-old in Kathua. State BJP leaders were seen to support the men accused of kidnapping, gang-raping and killing the child, who belonged to a Muslim tribal community. Two BJP lawmakers even participated in a rally to demand justice for the arrested men, who were all Hindus.
Political pundits in the sate as well as her predecessor Omar Abdullah of the National Conference had said Mehbooba Mufti should have resigned from the post of chief ministership then. “I had told Mehbooba Mufti to leave the coalition. I wish she had listened to me and left with dignity instead of having the rug pulled from under her feet,” said Omar Abdullah, asserting that he was “mourning, rather than celebrating” what happened.
In the 89-member state assembly, the BJP has 25 lawmakers and the PDP 28. Both are far short of the majority mark of 45. The Congress, which has 12 members, said there is no question of an alliance with the PDP. The other major party in the state is the National Conference, with 15 seats. Its chief Omar Abdullah called for fresh elections and said after meeting the governor, “NC didn’t get the mandate in 2014 so even in 2018 we don’t have the mandate.”
Political experts too are not very enthusiastic about the formation of the government in the state despite desertations from PDP. “But politics is the game of possibilities as well as unpredictability. No one would have dreamt that one day PDP and BJP, which had no similarities would come together. If something equally bizarre happens, one should not be surprised,” said a Kashmir expert.