With separatists and militants up in arms against any possible PDP-BJP tie up, Mufti Sayeed is treading with caution before gambling one last time. Shah Abbas analyses how government formation is turning out to be a double-edged sword for PDP and how separatists are reinforcing boycott post elections
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed must be the most worried man in Jammu and Kashmir today as he grapples to make, perhaps, the most crucial decision of his political career, which many analysts believe could be the second most damaging decision after Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s accord of 1975.
The decision on government formation has become more complicated for Mufti because the resistance camp, including the militants, has openly started voicing their long-term concerns.
On January 5, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani while addressing a seminar about the all important resolution of UN Security Council about Kashmir said that any pro-India formation rules the state, his faction of Hurriyat has nothing to do with government formation.
“Whoever is concerned about the entry of BJP (into Kashmir) can be asked: is not the presence of 7.5 lakh army in J&K the face of BJP?,” he said.
But, Geelani, a day later, issued a very hard hitting statement saying, “If the state is handed over to the people having fascist ideologies, then a ‘do or die’ like situation will be created for our nation because our lives, property, faith and our culture will be in danger and with the help of armed forces, Kashmir would be made a testing lab for the projects like ‘home coming’ and ‘save daughter and bring daughter-in-law’.”
Geelani further said, “The communal forces of India are planning a major and destructive offensive against the freedom struggle and the Muslim identity of the Kashmiri nation and for this purpose the national enemies from the tribe of Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq are in queue to collaborate with them in their mission.”
Geelani’s second statement indicates that his faction of Hurriyat is very much concerned about BJP coming to power in Jammu and Kashmir. However, his spokesman clarified that they were concerned because the ‘Hindu fascists’ who now rule India will have a direct role in the state’s internal affairs. “Whosoever forms the government in J&K is immaterial for us and our only concern is that RSS which is in power in New Delhi will have a government backing to implement its anti-Muslim agenda,” Ayaz Akbar told Kashmir Life.
The separatist camp is pursuing election boycott policy for three decades and it never endorsed the whole process. But as far as the present process of government formation is concerned its leaders are voicing different concerns.
Their public concerns have in fact started mounting indirect pressure on the PDP to abandon the idea of forging an alliance with the Hindu nationalists making their already catch-22 situation more knotty for assuming power in Jammu and Kashmir.
The separatists’ hardened posture has already created discomfort in many unionists like the National Conference leader who criticised the separatist leadership over issuing statements regarding government formation.
“We really fail to understand that when the separatist leadership during the elections had issued a boycott call and had urged the people of the state to stay away from polls, how it could interfere in the formation of the government,” Mustafa Kamal said. It was tacit admission by Kamal that Geelani’s statements about alliance formation in Kashmir hurts and affects the unionists.
Before Geelani, Kashmir’s Nelson Mandela, Shabir Shah ‘advised’ Mufti not to give hardliner Indian Hindu nationalists a passage into Kashmir.
“Kashmiri people have not voted PDP to alley with the BJP,” Shabir Shah was quoted in a statement as saying. This was immediately criticised by a Hurriyat (M) activist, Hilal Ahmad War and a corrigendum followed the same day from Shah’s Freedom party saying “it was a mistake”.
Many critics say that separatists should not “poke their nose” into the issues of government formation. But some political pundits are of the opinion that separatists are in fact trying to vindicate their election boycott policy by issuing ‘alarming’ statements about government formation.
“Separatists are using the opportunity to prove that the election process, from voting to government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, is not confined to bijli, sadak, pani only but goes much beyond,” Shawkat Ahmad Parray, a political science scholar told Kashmir Life.
Unionist political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, which take part in the election process, can be divided into two categories. One: Indian national parties like the Congress, BJP and Communists, and the other: regional parties like NC and PDP. The former believes that J&K is an integral part of India like other states but the later maintains that the restive state has just acceded to (under certain conditions) and not merged with the Indian union.
Separatists too are categorized into hawks and moderates. There are people like Prof Abdul Gani Bhat in the separatist camp, who since long profess and propagate their own peculiar politics, which they feel suits their “moderate” character.
“The politics demands prudence and patience, not intolerance and frenzy,” Bhat said while addressing a seminar on January 5. He recently trespassed every barrier and landed in Fair View, to meet Mufti, “his friend”.
Sources said that Bhat and the front runner for chief minister ship, Mufti discussed in length the issues related to the government formation for five long hours. They added that Bhat stressed upon Mufti to stand firm on his condition to BJP that the later should start a dialogue process with the Kashmiri separatists. The moderate Hurriyat faction Bhat relates to, has so far had many rounds of talks with New Delhi but nobody in Kashmir except the moderates know what was discussed in those meetings.
Not only the separatists, who are active on the political front, but militants also have tried to exert pressure on the PDP against going with the BJP.
“Those who believe this government will provide them succour and will put balm on their wounds are living in a fool’s paradise. Kashmiri people had never any expectations from such hand-picked governments of New Delhi and now ugly face of the government will appear when it will be formed with the support of most communal, anti-Kashmiri and anti-Muslim party BJP,” Hizb-ul-Mujahidin Chief, Syed Salahudin said in a statement.
If some separatists did not directly impress upon Mufti not to form the government with BJP, they however issued statements explaining what the process of determining alliances with Indian national parties reveals for the long run.
“Government under an “occupation” is always “illegitimate” and therefore it is hardly of any consequence to the pro-freedom leadership whether PDP ties the knot with Congress or BJP, a statement quoting an incarcerated militant ideologue Dr Muhammad Qasim said.
“The tragedy for NC and PDP is that, despite swearing their throats dry of being secular and Pro-India the Hindus in Jammu have outrightly rejected them and cut them to their size. Now given the Muslim majority of Jammu and Kashmir, it is a compulsion for the Delhi to take one of these parties along and these two parties just to be in power are ready to sell the honour of Muslims,” he said.
But the old horse and former chief of the United Jehad Council, Azam Inquilabi has most clearly opposed a probable PDP-BJP alliance exhibiting the emergence of a new strand of thinking in the camp. Some analysts take this as a positive, saying, “the change” has started to move in the air even when Mufti is yet to become the chief minister with BJP’s support.
“Let us be realistic and admit that some people voted for PDP and want it to form the government. A common Kashmiri hit by floods needs relief and it is the local government that can provide relief,” Inquilabi recently said, asserting elections should be delinked with Kashmir issue. “Mufti must cease the opportunity and forge an alliance with regional parties to keep BJP at bay,” said Inquilabi, the former militant commander.
Not only the separatists, but some noted opinion makers also are seriously opposed to any alliance between BJP and PDP.
A Delhi based author and columnist Praful Bidwai has expressed his views about the bleak future of Mufti if he forms a government with the BJP. “Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is on way to become condemnable than Sheikh Abdullah’s 1974 “surrender” to Indira Gandhi,” Bidwai wrote.
According to Bidwai, if Mufti embraced the BJP, his party would soon be routed. But it will help Modi strut about the world stage for having co-opted J&K’s Muslims in an “inclusive”, “secular” arrangement, and whitewashed his own record in Gujarat and beyond. “What a coup that would be for the RSS-BJP!,” Bidwai wrote.
“By embracing the BJP, Mufti risks becoming a weaker version of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, powerless against Israel’s occupation, yet helplessly dependent on it,” he added.
After a protest in press colony on December 30, by some youth under the banner of ‘citizen’s forum’ and clear opposition from the separatists, is Mufti willing to become “more condemnable” than Sheikh Abdullah’s “surrender” and “a weaker version of Mahmoud Abbas”? The question is debated in the nook and corner of the Muslim majority Kashmir including Chinab valley.