Agenda of Antagonism?

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When allies seek and not extend support in court rooms, the alliance is reduced to marriage of convenience, reports Tasavur Mushtaq

Shortly after he was sworn in as the head of BJPDP government in 2015, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed credited Pakistan, separatists and militants for allowing peaceful polls in J&K. That moment marked the first ideological difference between ‘North Pole-South Pole’ alliance. The contradictions continued and paved way to Article 35A.

Notwithstanding Agenda of Alliance insisting that “present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions pertaining to J&K including the special status in the Constitution of India,” Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, two and half years later, is seeking help against attempts to alter special status.

Mehbooba met everybody who matters in Delhi and asserted she has assurance by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Almost a fortnight after, nobody from BJP has come on record to second what Mehbooba claimed.

 “What she said is immaterial. What matters is what the PM said. That’s the only part of this meeting that matters at all,” Omar said in a tell-tale tweet, adding “..Can @PMOIndia explain ‘assurances’ pls?”

BJP is non-committal. Reiterating that matter being ‘legal’, the right wingers avoid supporting the ally. “By saying it is a legal matter, something sub-judice, they have left Mehbooba to fight it alone politically,” says a senior PDP legislator.

Even before Mehbooba flew back home with the “assurance”, BJP had rushed two leaders Avinash Rai Khanna and Ram Madhav to Jammu to be part of core group meeting. The meeting sources said was “to reassure local leaders, vocal against Article 35A, that party stands for them.”

The party wants “larger debate” which in itself falls short of AoA assurances. Its Kashmir Study Circle recently tied up with Jammu University for a seminar on 35A.The party is not supporting of status quo.

“Article 35A was illegal and needed to be challenged in court,” BJP’s Legislative Council member Ramesh Arora said. “The president can’t amend the Constitution by himself. It is illegal.”

Concerns are genuine. “This is existential threat for the party,” a South Kashmir PDP lawmaker said. “What we are left with, they have robed us off everything and how we can face our people again.”

Delhi’s non-involvement in  supporting Srinagar is adding to the crisis. “It is the AG’s job to defend the constitution,” an official in the Home Ministry has told the Indian Express. These responses are coming at a time when Mehbooba is seeking a joint affidavit of state and centre to the Supreme Court.

 PDPs “crisis manager” Dr Haseeb Drau is out of Kashmir and must be in Delhi. Amid these efforts, a Telegraph report suggested that “a 63-year-old file containing legal opinion on Article 35A has vanished from North Block’s high-security vaults.” Many attribute file disappearance with Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign. It contained “the then attorney-general’s opinion justifying the insertion of Article 35A into the Constitution that year through a presidential order rather than a constitutional amendment.”

The crisis has come at a time when the ruling PDP Is visibly more divided as situation is creating its own power centres. Muzaffar Hussain Baig, the senior most founding member of the party, has been in news for reasons not going well with the PDP.

But some political experts are correct when they say that Delhi has started changing the narrative and successfully reduced Kashmir to mere reactionaries.  “See the level they dropped Kashmiris to and now even Syed Ali Geelani talks about safeguarding Article 35A,” said a university professor wishing not to be named. “The separatist camp have now issued protest calendar to safeguard the provision of Indian constitution.”

The hearing of the case has now been to take place after Diwali. Mehbooba in her August 15 speech pinned hopes on the apex court, “I have faith in our  Supreme Court that whenever attempts were made to target the special status of the state, the apex court upheld Kashmir’s status. I am sure, as they rejected such pleas in last 70 years, they will do it this time too.”

Delhi, according to reports, has sought intelligence inputs on the possible repercussions in Kashmir if the apex court revoked or amended the article. The united opposition has already warned of repercussions, the separatist see it as “matter of life and death”. All eyes on Supreme Court!

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