Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti chose a dinner hosted for mediapersons some months ago to reveal for the first time her disapproval of the party’s alliance with the BJP, saying the coalition government had nothing to show.
A “helpless” Mehbooba was speaking “off the record”, though.
Tipped to be the next chief minister after the death of her father on January 7, she had then hoped that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s gamble to stitch an alliance with the ideologically-opposite BJP would work.
Her father’s government was cash-starved and faced unrest as victims of the devastating floods in 2014 were getting frustrated and angry over relief that was down to a trickle. This was costing the party where it mattered most — its core vote-base in the Valley.
Her party felt the Centre’s flood rehabilitation package was too little, too late.
Formed in February 2015 after a fractured poll verdict and two months of hard-nosed deliberations, faultlines within the alliance showed up early. The first instance was the release of hardline separatist Masarat Alam, which the PDP said was not done at its behest.
The government appeared to be governing two states — a Jammu that voted the Narendra Modi-led BJP to power and a Kashmir which voted to keep him out. Instead of governance, the two parties were forced to firefight one niggling issue after another, such as a high court-imposed beef ban, hoisting of the state flag and Article 370.
“Besides the beef ban, BJP members went to court against the state flag. Next could have been Article 370. The partners were never on the same page on anything,” a senior PDP leader said.
The state could not meet demands of even ad hoc or temporary employees. Civic elections never found a mention. The two assembly sessions witnessed almost negligible work, marred by protests and walkouts. In a first, a sitting legislator was punched by MLAs of the ruling coalition inside the assembly.
No new projects were announced while the old ones suffered because of acute funds crunch.
Disillusionment was rife and, for the first time, local militants outnumbered jihadis from abroad. PDP stronghold South Kashmir soon turned into a hotbed of militancy.
The PDP, which witnessed a golden era during Mufti’s 2002 stint at the helm, lost face both on the development count as well as politically. Ironically, Sayeed and Modi had come together in 2015 to give good governance to the troubled state.