Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti will find it tough to call off her party’s alliance with the ideologically opposite BJP for many reasons.
Firstly, any move to call off the alliance will mean that Mehbooba has overturned her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s decision which she had endorsed till the recent past.
Her late father had gone against the tide and forged a coalition with the BJP though he had an unconditional offer of alliance from both the Congress and the National Conference (NC) to form the government. Mufti had then equated his decision to go with the BJP to the bringing together of North Pole and South Pole, a move that enabled the BJP to be for the first time a part of any government in the Muslim-majority state.
There had been calls from within even during her father’s time to review the alliance with the BJP but he chose to ignore those. PDP MPs Tariq Hameed Karra and Muzaffar Hussain Baig apart from several district level leaders have been vocal against the tie-up and have since Mufti’s death upped the ground. These leaders have argued that the Narendra Modi government had “failed to take steps” towards implementing some of the sticking points mentioned of the alliance of agenda that the two parties have maintained was non-negotiable. They have described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic package as “political jingoism and mere jugglery of figures”.
Secondly, it will not be prudent for her to go for snap polls at this juncture in view of the declining popularity of the PDP that had recorded stupendous performance especially from the Kashmir valley in December 2014 assembly elections. Political analysts had then attributed the huge voter turnout in the insurgency-hit Kashmir to the strong anti-BJP sentiment.
That the National Conference (NC) will be the biggest beneficiary of the “failed alliance” with the BJP will also be playing high on her mind. The fact remains that the NC has regained some lost ground in Kashmir after Mufti decided to join hands with the BJP to form the government in the state.
She, therefore, has to do a fine balancing act between the demands from disgruntled elements in her party and sticking to her father’s move that she has till now maintained he took in the interest of future generations, with a vision and belief that the PDP would be able to deliver both on economic and governance fronts.
And the reason she might find it difficult to go with the Congress is the reason that a sensitive and border state such as Jammu and Kashmir needs to have “cordial ties” with the Centre not only for “liberal funding” but also to ensure return of peace by holding talks with Pakistan and Kashmiri separatist leaders.
But Mehbooba’s close aides say that her hard posturing has enabled the PDP to regain some of the constituency it had lost in the recent months and also sent clear signals to the BJP that she means business and that it will not be a “smooth run” for the saffron party in the future alliance unlike during her father’s time.
Last time, the power sharing agreement between the PDP and the BJP was finalised after nearly two months of intense negotiations and it remains to be seen how long the two parties will take to either re-stitch it or break it.
Politics is the art of possible, as Mufti would often quote German statesman Otto von Bismarck to describe the “unholy” alliance between the PDP and the BJP, and now all eyes are on his daughter as she prepares to take one of the toughest calls of her political career.