People’s Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is set to be sworn in as the next chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. Mufti, 79, will head a government which would be first of its kind for many reasons.
Sayeed was a chief minister with support from the Congress for three years from 2005-08. But this time, he will get the chief ministerial term for full six years — the Jammu and Kashmir assembly’s tenure. The BJP and the PDP have won the highest ever seats in this assembly.
Sayeed and Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week agreed on a common agenda to jointly rule the state following weeks of negotiations. It’s for the first time that the two parties with ‘extreme’ and ‘diametrically opposite’ political views will share power.
The keystone of the PDP’s political narrative is Article 370, which is non-negotiable, pandering to soft separatism and floating the feeling of sub-nationalism. The BJP’s ideological mooring is the anti-thesis of all this. It’s for this reason that Mufti has described the coming together of the BJP and the PDP as ‘meeting of the north and the south poles.’
But the agenda is unlikely to include any reference to scrapping the constitutional provision which allows Kashmir to make its own laws, even though the BJP has long been committed to its abolition.
Analysts warned that the coming together of two ideologically different parties could fuel discontent in Jammu, the only mainly Hindu part of the state, and the Kashmir valley where Muslim separatist sentiment has traditionally been strongest.
"What direction the discontent will take will depend on whether civil rights, like holding peaceful protest marches, will again be curbed," said Siddiq Wahid, a columnist and historian.
Sayeed, who had won the assembly election in 1983 from RS Pura in Jammu, is probably the only mainstream Kashmiri leader who had invested in bridging the divide between the Jammu and the Kashmir regions. He has maintained that focus should also be on Jammu-Kashmir rather than only New Delhi-Srinagar.
The BJP represents the aspiration of the Jammu region in real terms. The seemingly historic alliance could be a turning point in the political history of the state in a sense that the dissenting voices have decided to hoist the rudder of conciliation and governance.