The ruling alliance between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir may be under strain, but the two parties are unlikely to snap their ties as the move is bound to cost them dear, politically and electorally.
Both the PDP and the BJP have lost significant political ground in their respective strongholds after they joined hands in 2015, following a hung verdict in the 2014 assembly elections.
The outcome of the Lok Sabha bypolls in Srinagar is a clear indication that the PDP is on shaky ground. It lost the seat to the National Conference (NC) in a record low-turnout election.
Nearly three years ago, PDP candidate Tariq Hameed Karra had pulled an upset victory over NC stalwart Farooq Abdullah in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Karra has since defected to the Congress in protest against the PDP’s alliance with the BJP.
Prior to that, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s brother and PDP’s candidate from Anantnag, Tassaduq Mufti, appealed to the Election Commission to postpone the bypoll in view of the violence during polling for the Srinagar seat. Tassaduq’s statement was widely interpreted as an acknowledgement by the PDP of its declining popularity. His sister represented the Anantnag seat in the Lok Sabha, till she took over as chief minister after their father’s death. It is also well known that the PDP leadership had favoured postponement of the by-elections on both the seats and had conveyed its views to both the Election Commission and the Centre.
After the Srinagar bypoll defeat, the PDP suffered a setback in the legislative council elections and this time, the blow was dealt by its own alliance partner. A cross vote by an Independent legislator from Zanaskar, Syed Mohammad Baqir Rizvi, in favour of BJP’s Vikram Randhawa helped him defeat PDP candidate Abdul Qayoom Dar.
Banking on Rizvi’s support to bag the seat, the PDP was jolted by the BJP’s move.
Though the development further aggravated the already tenuous ties between the PDP and the BJP, neither of the two parties could afford to pull out of the ruling coalition at this juncture.
First, there are still more than three years left for the next assembly elections and second, opposition parties have stepped up their demand for imposition of governor’s rule. Both the propositions will put the two parties in a highly precarious position.
At best, there will be some noises. The CM nuanced the PDP’s position on the future of the alliance. “Whatever happened in the legislative council polls is bad. As far as PDP is concerned, we have followed the coalition dharma. But this is our internal matter and we will together resolve it,” she said. For its part, the BJP blamed lack of communication for the reported differences and insisted there is no rift.