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PDP-BJP alliance: Mufti faces tricky balancing act

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

The problem for Sayeed and his party is that not all those he calls ‘political prisoners’ are considered to be so by his ruling alliance partners in the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP), at both the state and central levels.

By Sheikh Qayoom

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed will need more than over 50 years of experience as a mature politician to keep the ruling PDP-BJP alliance on an even keel as controversies rattle the coalition even before it starts delivering on promises of peace and development.

The very first media conference Mufti Sayeed addressed after taking over as the chief minister last Sunday in winter capital Jammu rocked Parliament over his remarks that gave credit to Pakistan, the separatist Hurriyat and militants for the smooth conduct of the state assembly elections.

Union Home Minister Rajth Singh had to make a statement in the Lok Sabha contradicting Sayeed’s statement. Rajth Singh said the credit for the successful and fair conduct of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections went to the country’s Election Commission, the army, the paramilitary forces and, above all, the people of the state.

Sayeed’s daughter and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti defended her father’s statement saying Sayeed was not like his arch rival, tiol Conference patron, Farooq Abdullah, who Mehbooba said had specialised in the art of self-denial.

Sayeed has followed up his statement on separatists and militants by ordering the release of political prisoners.

State police chief K Rajendra Kumar has confirmed that the release will begin soon.

The problem for Sayeed and his party is that not all those he calls ‘political prisoners’ are considered to be so by his ruling alliance partners in the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP), at both the state and central levels.

Sayeed is obviously trying to keep his Valley-centric political constituency intact by ordering the release of political prisoners and also trying to prove that an alliance with the BJP could be far more Valley friendly than his adversaries want the people to believe.

But the problem for Sayeed is that in this case what is sauce for the goose might not be sauce for the gander.

The BJP dismisses the PDP idea that some of the top separatist leaders like Masrat Alam and Mushtaq-ul-Islam are political prisoners.

Masrat Alam, the chief of a militant outfit, was arrested during the 2010 unrest in the Valley. Both state and central intelligence agencies slam him for inciting thousands of youths to violence during 2010.

As many as 112 youth were killed during the 2010 unrest when unruly mobs torched public property, vandalised government offices and brought life to a grinding halt for nearly six months.

“These people are not political prisoners. They have committed crimes against the state and need to be dealt with in accordance with the law of the land. We will not allow their release at any cost,” a top BJP leader told IANS here.

The problem for Sayeed is that his party’s political interests are at conflict with those of his alliance partners in the BJP, despite the two having taken over two months to work out a common minimum programme (CMP).

“Development and peace are our CMP, but that cannot happen by compromising the sovereignty and integrity of the country,” said another top BJP leader in New Delhi.

With aberrations like these, Sayeed definitely needs much more than five decades of political experience to run the coalition government smoothly in the state.

Stitching an alliance with the BJP had been a tough call for Sayeed, but keeping it intact while delivering on peace and development promises would be a feat the 79-year old, wily Kashmiri politician might not find easy. IANS

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at sheikh.abdul @ians.in)

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