People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti’s delay in finalising her next course of action is giving sleepless nights to several top Sangh functionaries, who have suddenly become unsure of whether the alliance between the coalition partners in Jammu and Kashmir would continue after the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed last week.
The truth is that the BJP and Sangh leaders have been unable to fathom the Kashmiri mind and appear to have learnt little either from the supreme sacrifice of Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee or the erudite understanding of Prof Balraj Madhok, his close associate.
The outcome is that it is the BJP which is appearing to have deviated from its ideological moorings while the PDP comes out as the winner, as it is increasingly looking like a party which is prepared to make a course correction after the passing away of its numero uno leader. Here it is imperative to recall that it was the BJP general secretary and former RSS spokesman Ram Madhav, who had sewed up the alliance with the PDP, after more than a month long confabulations last year. He, too, is left with no option but to put up a brave face writ with uncertainty all over regarding the future of the alliance.
The Sangh, it seems, had underestimated the characteristic guile and astute sharpness of the Kashmiri mind that has outfoxed most of our front ranking national politicians over a period of time post Indira Gandhi’s assassination. It was till Indira’s time, she being a Kashmiri herself knew with perfect precision the goings-on to the last letter in the strife ridden border state. On their part, even the separatists could not take overstepping liberties with her as she was capable of dealing with her opponents with an iron hand.
Mehbooba Mufti may not have held any government position in the past, but knows the political turf in the Valley better than many experienced veterans. By demonstrating that she was in no hurry to take the oath of office, she has sent a straight forward message that she was not hankering after power. She realises that if she is able to showcase her commitment to the people of Kashmir despite the alliance, she would come out as a leader who was prepared to sacrifice power in the complete interests of the state.
This move, perhaps is inspired by Sonia Gandhi’s declining the Prime Ministerial position in 2004 that had made the nation temporarily believe that the Congress president was not looking for power, but instead desired to give the country a stable, secular and credible government. It is another matter that things deteriorated in the following ten years at the end of which the real story why she had not agreed to take the oath of office came out in public domain.
Due credit has to be given to the citizens of India that they have deep regard for those who are not seen as power seekers. Recent political history shows that L.K. Advani could never fulfil his ambition of being the Prime Minister because he seemed in a hurry to occupy the august office. Sonia Gandhi became the most powerful woman in the last 31 years precisely because she did not accept the offer to be the head of the government. In the process, she also became the longest serving Congress president, a feat that one would imagine would be unmatchable in the future.
Mehbooba understands the pulse of the people and is aware that her party’s alliance with the BJP did not go too well in the Valley and it was solely her father’s towering stature that did not allow dissatisfaction to surface. When a mere few thousand people showed up at the Mufti’s funeral, it became crystal clear to Mehbooba and to her key colleagues in the party that the alliance did not have the endorsement of their supporters. More number of mourners had showed up at the funerals of pro-Pakistan elements in the Valley in the past; the appalling reality, therefore, dawned on the PDP president that the time had come to re-assess the situation on the ground before proceeding further.
It is thus not surprising that senior PDP leaders have begun discussing the need to review the promises and pledges made in the alliance document. The PDP is keen to extract many more assurances from the principal party leading the Central government, with the hope that its hardball attitude would get many backers in the Valley. The effort is to redefine the playing surface, where the PDP can encash upon any sympathy factor following the Mufti’s death, as also create an impression that his daughter was willing to shun power in order to be amongst the common people. This attitude could prove beneficial if the alliance breaks up and fresh elections are ordered. The preparation is for any kind of eventuality.
The BJP has been caught altogether on the wrong foot. It had put the abrogation of Article 370 on the backburner in order to accommodate its alliance partner and had gradually softened its stand. It needs the alliance to succeed. Otherwise, there will be a complete loss of face in justifying the break up to voters of Jammu. Between us.