Jammu/Srinagar: Even though the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders said on Saturday that “all is not over” between the PDP and the Bharatiya Janata Party, there seems little doubt that the alliance between the two parties is on its last legs.
After the so-called “secret talks” between the PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti and the BJP president, Amit Shah failed to pave the way for a meeting between Mehbooba Mufti and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the message from one the most powerful men among the saffron brigade was clear.
“The government in J&K cannot be based on preconditions. Trust cannot be based on any condition,” said the party’s national general secretary and point man on Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav.
The BJP showed its own version of ‘iron fist’ even while Modi was witnessing the ‘Iron Fist’ exercises by the country’s armed forces at Pokhran in Rajasthan.
Madhav told reporters in New Delhi: “Governments cannot be formed on preconditions. The fact is since the death of Mufti Sahib, the PDP is yet to choose its nominee for the chief minister’s post”. That may be quibbling with the fine print, since every one in Kashmir and Delhi know who the nominee is.
Madhav, however, said that after being chosen as a chief minister nominee, Mehbooba Mufti could always make demands as is usual for chief ministers while dealing with the centre.
The message to Mehbooba Mufti was clear, although couched in polite words: get sworn in on our terms or else, forget it.
Senior PDP leader and one of party’s founding members, Muzaffar Hussain Baig swung into some immediate damage control after the word was delivered by Ram Madhav.
Talking to reporters, Baig, who has been a strong votary for continuing the alliance with the BJP, said: “There has been some miscommunication. We have not raised any new conditions. All we have said is we seek a time frame on already agreed terms of alliance between the two parties”.
PDP spokesman and former minister, Naeem Akhtar said: “Stalemate does not mean the talks are over. This is a setback, but that does not mean the talks have reached a dead end”.
Mehbooba returned to Srinagar by first flight on Saturday, after her much hyped meeting with Modi did not come off and was instead followed by Ram Madhav’s comments.
The one politician enjoying continuing impasse between the PDP and the BJP, is the former chief minister and working president of the regional National Conference Omar Abdullah.
When the PDP-BJP arrangement looked like breaking down on Saturday, Omar went on his much followed Twitter handle to deride the Mehbooba Mufti.
“It seems she didn’t know what she wanted from the centre and got tripped up because her demands were too vague and her response too erratic”, Omar said.
“If all she wanted was the agenda of alliance, that was a roadmap with six year implementation period, what was the problem with timeframe?” Omar said in another tweet.
The former chief minister also remarked, “Watch how Mehbooba Mufti will now try and claim that her party wasn’t asking for anything new and how the PM has let down J&K”.
All the overtures from the BJP, the NC and even her own party notwithstanding, the fact is the alliance between the PDP and BJP has developed gaping holes visible to all.
The only thing that needs to be watched now is whether Mehbooba Mufti calls off the alliance or waits for another rebuff from the BJP.