J&K Assembly Dissolved: Kashmiris Are Tired of Delhi’s Games
Mehbooba Mufti (L) and Sajjad Lone (R). Image used for representational purposes.
Mehbooba Mufti (L) and Sajjad Lone (R). Image used for representational purposes.(Photo: Kamran Akhter / The Quint)

J&K Assembly Dissolved: Kashmiris Are Tired of Delhi’s Games

Never has the luxury of staying aloof from Indian mainstream politics been as non-existent for the Kashmiris as it is now.

Till 2014, it was either the Indian National Congress (INC), People's Democratic Party (PDP), or National Conference (NC) which would get to form the government in the volatile state of Jammu and Kashmir, with differing power-sharing equations. With the grand entry of BJP into the Indian parliament and a robotically efficient election army, it started making forays into hitherto non-BJP bastions, one of the places being the Kashmir Valley.

Also Read : Madhav Retracts Pak Comment, Asks Omar to Prove NC-PDP ‘Love’

From Rumours to Reality

After the PDP-BJP alliance broke up, it was believed that the PDP was on the verge of a split being engineered from New Delhi, where a fraction of PDP wanted to form a coalition with the government.

The political split however could not take place because Jammu and Kashmir has an extremely stringent Anti Defection Law which makes horse-trading almost impossible.

However, the inroads that were made into the recent Urban Local Body Elections, by the BJP-backed Junaid Azim Mattoo, and Sajjad Gani Lone forming the new 'anti dynasty front' – the Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference – surely gave the NC and PDP sleepless nights. Their decision to not participate in the local body elections meant that many proxy candidates with the support of the BJP were able to get elected to the local level posts.

What really infuriated the parties was the press conference by Muzzafar Beigh, one of the stalwarts of PDP, the author of the ‘Self Rule’ Document hinted at a possible alliance with Sajjad Gani Lone.

It set the alarm bells ringing for both PDP and the National Conference, and within a day, rumours of a possible alliance between the two started making it to social media networks, soon to be confirmed officially by the legislators of respective parties.

What Political Permutations & Combinations Will Work?

In a dramatic turn of events, Mehbooba Mufti, tweeting from her official verified account, that her letter to form a stake for the Legislative assembly with PDP being the largest party with 29 MLAs, with the support of 15 MLAs of NC, and 12 MLAs of Congress, should be allowed to prove her majority through a floor test.

The 'fax' was apparently not received by the Raj Bhavan. Within an hour, Sajjad Gani Lone, with the support of BJP and 'rebel' MLAs who were not named, also staked a claim. Ethically, the governor, should have called for a floor test and challenged both of them to prove their majority. Instead, within five minutes, the governor announced the dissolution of the assembly.

So, would the alliance have helped achieve what has always been seen as a fundamental goal of any government formation in the state – a calm valley?

When the BJP-PDP alliance was formed, many hoped that the 'marriage between East and the West' would ferment and calm down the hardliners on all sides, as now the power was seen to be shared equally between the Hindu-dominated Jammu, and Muslim- dominated Valley.

It was seen to bring the Valley closer to Jammuites after the Amarnath agitation drove a wedge between the two main provinces of Jammu and Kashmir. So, what are the political permutations and combinations that could work in Kashmir? None that can be pre-postulated.

Jammu Doesn’t Have ‘Equal Voice’ in J&K Politics

Consider this. Kashmir has mostly witnessed periods of calm during the governor's rule, a constitutional post which is the direct representative of the Centre. Snowfall, onset of winter, police intelligence, sporadic events (like the death of popular militant leader, or civilian causalities in an encounter) get to determine the level of calm in the Valley.

However, one of the reasons for the constant dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties in Kashmir is because they are seen as extensions and in cohorts with New Delhi, and therefore as a direct threat to the special status of the state, the erosion of which is at the heart of the perpetual unease in the Valley.

A 'mahagathbandhan' as it is was being called, would have been seen standing up to the ruling party at the Centre –as it was clearly an anti-BJP alliance, and therefore would have had the potential to restore some degree of credibility to democratic process and institutions in the Valley.

In fact the huge turnout in the last state elections –a rare occurrence – and a non-existent fury on the part of the separatists, was a result of an understanding of not letting the BJP make inroads into Kashmir.

But did the new alliance have the potential to, in turn, alienate Jammu, which is largely a BJP bastion? Yes, it did.

Jammu constantly complains of not having an equal voice in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir, and of neglect by the Centre. If all the elected representatives of the province got to sit in the opposition, it could have flared up the sentiments of the people.

Dissolution of Assembly, A Blow to Democratic Process

The alliance should also force the political parties in Kashmir to now tone down their 'Self Rule' documents and reorganise their manifestos to suit a present Kashmir in contemporary India. Thanks to the digital revolution, with every Kashmiri now boasting a smart phone, gone are the days when you could should shout 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' in Delhi and next day in Kashmir, votes would be collected in the name of Pakistan.

It was this unethical politics which was responsible for the considerable erosion of legitimacy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

But now the governors’ sudden dissolution of the assembly right after Mehbooba Mufti made a claim, is going to strike another blow to the legitimacy of the democratic institutions and processes, and could push the Valley into further alienation.

It was after all the widespread rigging in 1988 state elections that first pushed the Valley into the grip of widespread militancy, with almost all members of the Muslim United Front crossing over to other side of Line of Control.

However, the decision of the governor could face the Supreme Court, with the Karnataka precedent strongly on the side of Mehbooba Mufti.

For live updates click here.

(Ifra Jan is a Delhi-based Kashmiri writer. Her interests are Public Policy, Religious Radicalism, Gender and Politics. She tweets at @ifra_jan. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(The Quint is now available on Telegram and WhatsApp. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to our Telegram and WhatsApp channels)

Follow our Opinion section for more stories.

    Also Watch