From Healing Touch to Pellet Guns: PDP’s Sentimental Politics
By: Zahid Sultan/Irshad Bhat
The People’s Democratic Party was formed on 27th July, 1999 under the leadership of late Mufti Mohammad Syed, a seasoned politician who had earlier been in Union ministry and was considered as a stalwart. The emergence of PDP in state politics was a significant development and one could say that it changed, either temporarily or in the long term, the dynamics of state politics. Prior to its formation, the National Conference was losing ground in the valley due to its alliance with BJP at the centre. The contradiction between the BJP and National Conference on the issue of Article 370 largely antagonized the support base of National Conference particularly in Kashmir valley as the National Conference stopped insisting on autonomy and the political status of the pre-1953 period. The National Conference’s gradual decline created a vacuum in the state politics that paved the way for PDP to strengthen its roots.
The PDP emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly polls of 2014 mostly won seats from the valley but short of a majority to form a government on its own. In Jammu BJP’s ride on Modi wave emerged as the second largest party for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. both the political parties fought against each other . in the valley PDP mainly mobilized people against the possible BJP rule and visualized doomsday if the later formed the government . on the other hand BJP mobilized voters particularly against the dynastic rule of Mufti’s and Abdullah’s. both political parties got the mandate from their respective regions on what they profess. But the political expediency brought them close to each other and they form a coalition government. Late Mufti mohammad syed characterized this relation as coming together of North pole and South pole. But he forgot to answer at what cost ? he was given the mandate to keep the BJP out of state power not to make it partner in power . it was clear from the very beginning that it would be uneasy alliance and would have greater repercussions on the fragile peace of Jammu and Kashmir. On different issues , both alliance partners lock horn, that paralyzed the government functioning. From the beef issue to tinkering with the constitutional status of state created ripples in the valley. More astonishing was PDP’s silence on these issues that made people realize that it is complicit in the whole process, that is what journalist Gowher Geelani wrote in his facebok post ,’’the party is not a victim of any betrayal. it is, by its own admission a partner in crime.’’
All the hell broke loose when Burhan wani was killed on 8th july,2016. The way PDP-BJP dealt with the situation with an iron fist was something unprecedented. The government imposed the curfew stretching it to the longest term in the history of South Asia. The approval to use pellet guns ,imposing public safety act, night raids ,ransacking houses altogether have contributed to already lost credibility of PDP among people.
It was a complete reversal from its policy of healing touch. From above we see that PDP has lost almost its ground in the valley now it uses sentimental politics in order to revive itself in the valley by visiting the families of militants and best example of this is when on the party’s 19th foundation day Mehbooba Mufti said that ,’’she drank cup of poison ‘’ to continue in a coalition government with the BJP out of compulsion, following her father’s demise in 2016 but the fact is that it is she who brought ‘’ Operation All Out’’ in the state and it is she now visiting the militant families and giving them sympathies in order to regain the already lost battle that is what is known by the term ‘’Opportunist Separatism’’ which is more dangerous than separatists and militancy. And the irony is that as Chief Minister during the civilian killings of 2016 she said, “there was nothing in my hands. What was in my hands I did that. We got centre to announce a ceasefire and killings stopped.’’
Now, let’s see by invoking these sentiments will PDP regain its lost ground in the valley for which we have to wait till the coming Assembly elections of 2019.