Free Press Journal

No new coalition for Jammu and Kashmir

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Reports that a few disgruntled MLAs belonging to the People’s Democratic Party are toying with the idea of cobbling together a new ruling coalition in collaboration with the BJP in J and K have not been denied by the parties concerned. A few PDP legislators who have openly rebelled against the former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti have reportedly mooted the idea of a new government with the BJP. On its part, the State unit of the BJP has expressed willingness to experiment with such a patch-work coalition, arguing that the party has never before headed a J and K government.

Indeed, a number of BJP leaders in the State seem to be encouraging the disgruntled PDP MLAs to revolt against Mehbooba. They argue that the time was now ripe for the State to be ruled by a ‘non-family’ party, a clear reference to the PDP and the Abdullahs’ National Conference. Such self-serving arguments, however, cannot gloss over the inherent difficulties in foisting a yet another coalition of convenience over the troubled State. If the novel coalition between PDP and the BJP failed to bring Kashmir any closer to the return of peace and normalcy, it is a moot question whether an opportunistic coalition of a few PDP rebels along with a few footloose independents with the BJP will be able to do any good. Mocking the 2014 mandate of the people with such convoluted experiments at government-formation will serve little or no purpose. The truth is that J and K cannot have a representative government at this juncture, at least not in the current Assembly. As for a fresh election, the leader of the National Conference, Omar Abdullah, has said that the situation is not conducive for a fresh poll. Under normal circumstances, the NC ought to have expected to reap electoral dividends from the failure of the PDP-BJP government in a fresh Assembly poll. However, so fraught are the conditions on the ground in the State, it will be foolhardy to plunge the State into an early election or a yet another unholy alliance. The best course is for the Governor of J and K to continue to mend the situation on the ground bit-by-small-bit and ensure that the legitimate grievances of the people can be addressed by the state administration.

The character of the jihadi movement in Kashmir has undergone a drastic change with the local youths alienated by the lack of educational and employment opportunities and the unmet aspirations for the Pakistan-fuelled ~azadi~ campaign, have embraced the AK-47 culture in alarming numbers. Under these circumstances, the foremost task of the Governor ought to be to provide a responsive administration, alive to the daily needs of the people. How to make ordinary Kashmiris feel that they, too, have a stake in the local administration is the challenge before the Governor. Quelling jihadi violence without alienating the lay Kashmiris has become an arduous task in recent years because of provocations and excesses committed by both sides. Let Governor N N Vohra handle the situation to the best of his ability without yet another opportunistic alliance making things difficult for him and the State at large.