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No sympathy for PDP in Mehbooba Mufti’s home town

The town of Bijbhera is bereft of any sympathy for the PDP. In neighbouring Anantnag, where Mehbooba was elected in 2016, the mood is not any different and there is only visible resentment among PDP workers

india Updated: Jun 21, 2018 09:18 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Bijbhera (Anantnag)
Mehbooba Mufti,PDP,PDP-BJP split
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti during the Budget Session of the J-K Legislative Assembly in Jammu on January 27, 2017. (PTI File Photo)

An eerie silence hangs over Dara Shikoh Park in south Kashmir’s Bijbhera town. At one end of the park stands the tomb of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) founder and former chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, encircled by a barbed wire fence.

People who come to spend time at the park from different parts of south Kashmir don’t veer near the tomb of Sayeed, once one of the Valley’s most popular politicians, and show no sympathy for the PDP.

The reason, locals say, is the doomed alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which ended on Tuesday after the saffron party pulled out of the coalition.

“When the PDP was formed, we voted for it, thinking it as our own party. There was a difference when they ruled the state first time. But, they committed the biggest mistake by going with the BJP,’’ says Iqbal Ahmad, 35 who had come from Pahalgam along with his friends to spent some time in the park.

“Like me many people in south Kashmir got dejected once they aligned with rightwing party and started killing people. All their good work has been lost to this alliance. It was better for them to remain out of power than become a partner of the BJP,” he said.

Bijbhera is the ancestral town of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and is represented by senior PDP leader Abdul Rehman Veeri in the assembly.

In neighbouring Anantnag, where Mehbooba was elected in 2016 with a margin of more than 12,000 votes, the mood is not any different and there is only visible resentment among PDP workers.

“Our party was ditched by BJP...For the time being it is a setback for us, but we will return with more power. People will remember our governance just after a few months,’’ said Abdul Hameed, an old PDP worker.

“In south Kashmir, PDP is the only force with a base and despite backstabbing by the BJP, the party will remain intact whenever elections will take place. Though going with BJP cost us many workers.’’

Tasaduq Rashid, a journalist from south Kashmir and resident of Mattan, said, “A majority of people in south Kashmir are disillusioned with the PDP for entering into an unholy alliance with BJP. They remained in government for 1,174 days and 914 killings took place in that period. These killings developed a trust deficit and alienation not only among the youth but even older people.’’

Sitting at a roadside cafe on the Anantnag–Pahalgam road, Rashid said there was a governance deficit as well.

“In the four districts of south Kashmir — Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam — the youth were pushed to the wall and they took to militancy as a last resort. And it happened because PDP ditched their core constituency by going with the BJP for self interest,” he said.

Hakeem Sajjad Ahmad, a prominent trader in Anantnag, said the PDP’s alliance with the BJP had given birth to this turmoil.

“The people of south Kashmir had many expectations with the PDP but the people were proved wrong. I think situation will further get worse and now 95% people will prefer to boycott than vote for any party,” Ahmad explained.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 23:32 IST