The tension in Kashmir in the wake of the transfer of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board exploded into crisis on Saturday after the 18-MLA People’s Democratic Party PDP pulled out of the ruling coalition.
Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s government is now in a minority in the 87-member House. The Congress has 32 MLAs (including 21 who were originally elected and 11 who associated with it later), and even if the two CPM members and seven others back the government, it will fall short of the halfway mark of 44. The only way the government can survive is if the 24-member opposition National Conference abstains during a trust vote. The four-member Panthers Party has already withdrawn from the coalition.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told a press conference on Saturday evening: “All our ministers have resigned. The resignation letters have been sent to the chief minister. We have also sent a letter of withdrawal of support to the governor.”
Mahbooba blamed the government’s refusal to withdraw the land transfer order that has triggered violent street protests across the Valley over the past week.
“We had set a June 30 deadline. But the government has not done anything so far. People are protesting against the land transfer. Many have died. We cannot remain mute spectators to all this,” she said.
The Congress is bracing for the worst. Social Welfare Minister Abdul Gani Vakil said: “Power has never been our priority. We showed that when we vacated the CM’s seat for Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1975. Mufti Mohammed Sayeed (Azad’s predecessor) could have never dreamed of becoming CM had we not supported him. Unity and communal harmony is our priority.”
Vakil accused Mufti of “being in league with the BJP in creating regional and communal disharmony in Jammu and Kashmir”.