Hope, Questionable Intent, Fear: Many Shades of BJP-PDP Alliance

The pitfalls in the coalition were so immense that a successful bridging could have brought unexpected gains.

3 min read

Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

Since all politics is a coalition of competing interests, we really can’t say the PDP-BJP government failed because it was a coalition; instead, it was the political niyat (intention) that was not sahi (right).

I believe there are two kinds of political coalitions:

  1. A horizontal, expansionist “Coalition of Hope”, in which parties reach out to hitherto ignored, even inimical, interest groups to enlarge their footprint.
  2. A vertical, echo-chamber like “Coalition of Fear”, where political parties amp up their polarising rhetoric; here, either you are with us, or you are the enemy. The middle ground is gone.
Unquestionably, the Mufti-Modi Pact to create the PDP-BJP coalition government on 1 March 2015 was a ‘Coalition of Immense Hope’.

The sheer “irreconcilability” of PDP, a Valley-based, soft-separatist outfit, betrothed to the BJP, a macho/militaristic, Hindus-first, Jammu-based party, upped the potential of the coalition.

This duo had scripted India’s “Audacity of Hope”, anchored to a dream document of governance.

  • Following the principles of “Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat” (humanism, pride in Kashmir’s regional identity, and democracy), the state government will help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders which include political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections.
  • De-notifying disturbed areas and taking a final view on the continuation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in these areas.
  • Article 370: maintained.
  • Dialogue with Hurriyat Conference: facilitate.
  • One-time settlement of refugees from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • Share in NHPC’s (National Hydro-electric Power Corporation’s) profits emanating from J&K’s waters.

(Abstracted from the BJP-PDP Common Minimum Programme – 2015; italics are mine for emphasis)

Unfortunately, the “dream document” proved to be little more than a collection of jumlas (popular, but clever/specious, claims).

In fact, Prime Minister Modi reneged on his most vital promise, saying there would be no dialogue with the Hurriyat or anybody who has a whiff of “separatism” around him/her. AFSPA was not rolled back in any way.

Even the easily delivered jumla, around NHPC’s profit share, was ignored. Unsurprisingly, the ordinary Kashmiri got rapidly disillusioned.


Then, within ten months, Chief Minister Mufti died. But Prime Minister Modi, in an unusually explicit snub, did not attend Mufti’s funeral. A poor turnout added to the suspicion that the PDP-BJP coalition was losing popular support.

Mehbooba, the late Mufti’s daughter and heir, went into a rather public sulk. But exactly three months later, on 4 April 2016, Mehbooba Mufti capitulated and agreed to become the chief minister, without anything to show for her “petulance”.

The Coalition of Immense Hope vanished, regressing into a new “Coalition of Questionable Intent”.
  • Modi vicariously breached his “will not touch Article 370” pledge by telling the Supreme Court that his government was ready to discuss the scrapping of Article 35A, which bestowed exclusive property, settlement, and a few other rights on the Kashmiris.
  • Then Kathua happened. An 8-year-old Bakherwal Muslim girl was allegedly raped by Hindu men inside a temple. The BJP jumped in to polarize, saying the young men were being framed.
  • A dozen other flashpoints erupted: BJP’s triumphalism over Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter, the Army using an ordinary Kashmiri as a human shield, treating juvenile stone-pelting protestors as “terrorists” and blinding them with lethal pellets, the cruel boast by the Army that “had this been Syria, we could have brought out our tanks”, it was an unremitting litany of reprisals and violent words/actions.
The “Coalition of Questionable Intent” had now become the “Coalition of Fear”, as PDP and BJP retreated into their respective echo-chambers.

Then Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated. Without as much as a private word or warning to Mehbooba, the BJP announced publicly that it was quitting the alliance.

The BJP got its rallying slogan for 2019, that India’s unity is in peril, and we are its sole muscular guardians. Everybody else is a traitor. The PDP, I am sure, will try to reclaim its soft-separatist constituency in the Valley. But all of this, at what cost to India, thy beloved?

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