March 2016 News

Mehbooba Mufti Made Two Cardinal Mistakes

20 March 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti committed two cardinal mistakes. She thought the BJP, the party with which her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had stood against all odds and political risks, would understand her and extend a helping hand to surmount problems facing Jammu and Kashmir. But the other side offered her the fractured chair of Chief Minister. In a way it was to clip her wings, preventing her from taking off in her executive career, politically. On her part, Mehbooba displayed rare political and moral courage when she said that 'our fight is not against any regional or national party, but against the bloodshed in the state'. She was 'deeply anguished' over the killing of Captain Tushar Mahajan of Udhampur and a bright mind, Ishfaq Newton, who had taken to militancy in Tral, Pulwama . 'They are our children, we don't want them to die like this. We want to build a constituency of peace where the youth can secure their future without the shadow of gun hovering over them.' She spoke these words in the frontier district of Kupwara in north-west Kashmir on March 7. Alongside, she made it clear that the political alliance stitched by her father, was a 'line cast in stone'. This was her first mistake. Delhi should have read the message: she has devoted her politics to peace. But those who had profiled her as 'ultra Kashmiri Muslim' did not allow her positive message to reach the men who matter in the Centre. Instead, what was conveyed was that she was arrogant and too demanding. Her second mistake was her belief that whatever she has asked for within the ambit of the Agenda of Alliance, mutually agreed upon by her father and the Government of India would be responded to with all sincerity of purpose. Quite often, she was asked what her demands were. She did not open up for she believed that she had to keep the word not to make public her demands. This was the word that both the PDP and the BJP were supposed to keep till the conclusion of negotiations on government formation. To her credit, the PDP chief caught between the dilemma of getting something for the whole state and to understand limitations of the alliance partner did not react even when it started appearing in a section of the media fed by the vested quarters that she was asking for the recall of AFSPA, withdrawal of the Army from certain pockets in Jammu and Kashmir and restoration of the Indo-Pak talks. All these points are in the Agenda of Alliance, but her immediate concern was the empowerment of the people and the state in the liberal funding of the state, especially to provide relief and rehabilitate the victims of the September 2014 floods, getting smart city tag for Jammu and Srinagar and the return of the power projects to the state. Those who see in these demands something new must tell the nation what new demands Mehbooba had made and that disclosure should be made in her presence. Propriety demands that. There is a need to read the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with clear glasses. The situation is grim. In 1984, New Delhi gave the impression that it didn't care for the mandate of the people. It went ahead with its own agenda and dismissed an elected government and installed a government by inflicting defection on the National Conference. The consequences were there for all to see. The rigged elections of 1987 and the eruption of insurgency in the 1990s are dark corridors of our history. Delhi should not fall for short-term gains. The game should be played by the rule book. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, having a clear and convincing mandate, can turn things around. The past would tell us that small steps bring larger gains. The Prime Minister had described the Rs 80,000-crore package in November last year as a 'beginning'. A political government in the state is not only a political necessity but also in the overall interest of the nation. No one should forget that political uncertainty in this state is the most sought after condition by Pakistan, now China too has joined this Great Game.