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Thursday, February 2, 2017

PDP’s yet another supreme sacrifice for the coalition with BJP
CM eats the humble pie, escapes to Gulmarg for snow carnival as business terminated dramatically in both Houses of Legislature

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Feb 1: Six days ahead of the schedule and without any consultation with the respective Business Advisory Committees, the budget session in both Houses of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature was dramatically terminated on Wednesday even as the Leader of Opposition Omar Abdullah claimed on Twitter that the Presiding Officers had received the signal from the Government. This brings to an end high drama in the Legislature over the Chief Minister calling the anti-370 forces as “anti-national” and Speaker Kavinder Gupta saying that he would expunge the adjective not palatable to the BJP from Mehbooba Mufti’s speech.

There has been no confusion or ambiguity over the fact that no political party other than the BJP and its Sangh Parivar constituents has been vociferously struggling for abrogation of the Article 370 of the Constitution of India and other statutory provisions that grant and guarantee special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the dominion of India. Obviously, the Chief Minister and the coalition partner labelling the “forces weakening the Article 370” as anti-national has come as a major embarrassment for the BJP, unluckily ahead of Assembly elections in UP, Punjab and some other States.

Sensing the political deficit, BJP demonstrated tremendous alacrity in media management—it succeeded in playing down the news on TV and in newspapers. It also managed a damage-control action from the Speaker in a desired manner. On Tuesday, Speaker obliged a BJP MLA with his assurance that he would examine the records and expunge from Chief Minister’s speech if there was “anything like anti-national”. His disposal of the BJP MLA’s complaint stirred a hornets’ nest. The Opposition argued it was tantamount to censuring the CM who had lost the moral standing to act as the head of the Government.

In the thick of the hullabaloo, as the Opposition pressed hard that Chief Minister should make a clarification, own or discard what she had said about the anti-370 forces on Monday, Speaker attempted to douse the flames. He said that he had examined the record. “It appears that there was nothing wrong in her intention”, Speaker said without regard to what over 30 cameras had recorded live on Monday. Omar posted relevant part of the video of Mehbooba Mufti’s speech on his Twitter handle, making BJP’s position awkward before a larger audience. He has over 16 lakh followers on Twitter.

Speaker made an unsuccessful attempt to divert the slur to the Kashmiri separatists who, he said, used to exploit things to perpetuate disturbance in the Valley. It was not digestible for the Opposition and media as it is the BJP, not the Hurriyat or any other separatist organisation, that has been gunning for Article 370. In the video Mehbooba is clearly heard and seen as saying that nothing was “as big an anti-national act as weakening Article 370”. She makes her contention absolutely clear that when some forces speak or act against Article 370, the separatists on the prowl in Kashmir exploit it to disrupt peace and create disturbance.

In the videos through internet, Mehbooba endorses Omar Abdullah’s apprehension and assures him that her Government would leave no stone unturned to protect Article 370 and 35-A in the judiciary. She seeks NC’s and other opposition parties’ help in the Legislature to safeguard the State’s special position. This was enough to reclaim a part of the base lost in Kashmir in the last around two years.

However, the BJP lost no time to turn the tables. It succeeded to project that Speaker had expunged the “anti-national” remarks and admonished the Chief Minister. It ruffled a many feathers in the PDP but the party thought it opportune to surrender as it has been reduced to the weakest possible position and, for now, is left with no pigeons in its basket. The party’s crisis managers believe that any confrontation with the BJP could make it lose power at a time when the tempers at home were running terribly high over PDP’s failure to realize a single “pro-Kashmir” promise of the Agenda of Alliance. The other day only, Prime Minister’s office made it clear that the Centre was not going to hand over any of its hydroelectric power projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

Chief Minister’s continued absence from the Legislature for two eventful days, her party’s Ministers and MLAs being mute to the Opposition pandemonium and the BJP’s triumphant tones have significantly added to the PDP’s troubles and trauma. It remains to be seen if some ground could be reclaimed with some pro-people measures and decisions like providing jobs to the unemployed youths on the fast track and unleashing a visible developmental initiative across the Valley.


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