“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
– Benjamin Franklin
What has been on cards for almost three years has ultimately happened. President Ram Nath Kovind has approved imposition of Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect on Wednesday after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday shocked its alliance partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), by pulling out of the coalition government, thus breaking up their wobbly stint that began in 2015. Governor NN Vohra sent a report to Union Home Ministry on Tuesday evening recommending Central rule in the State after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti submitted her resignation formally ending the marriage of convenience. The PDP-BJP alliance was formed after the Assembly election threw up a fractured mandate. PDP had emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats while the BJP won 25 seats. National Conference (NC), which was in power before the election, could manage to win only 15 seats in a house of 87 members. Congress won 12 seats. In the three years of PDP-BJP rule in the state, little has been achieved as the two parties had divergent views on most issues. Tuesday’s dramatic developments ended the uneasy, if not unholy, alliance between the PDP and the BJP, two parties holding diametrically opposing views on all issues concerning Kashmir.
BJP pulled out of the alliance days after two major developments. First, the Government of India’s decision not to extend the Ramadan truce in Kashmir. Second, the assassination of senior Journalist Shujaat Bukhari. Since the two parties first came to power in 2015 during Mufti Sayeed’s time, they opposed each other on almost every second matter. BJP’s general secretary Ram Madhav while announcing his party’s decision to pull out of the coalition said the decision was taken since “fundamental rights of citizens including right to life and free speech are in danger. Militancy, violence and radicalisation have risen and fundamental rights of the citizens are under danger in the Valley. Shujaat Bukhari’s killing is an example.” He repeatedly mentioned the murder of senior journalist Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir, as the turning point. Right from day one the partners have been at loggerheads on every issue — while the NDA government is not prepared to hold talks with the Hurriyat leaders, Mehbooba pleaded for talks not only with the Hurriyat leaders and separatists, but also with Pakistan. Another case in point here is the differences over whether or not to extend the cessation of operations against the militants announced for the Ramzan month.
Given the present numbers in the J&K Assembly, an alternative government without the BJP will require coming together of the PDP, the National Conference and the Congress — the possibility of which is somewhat remote. So, the imposition of President’s rule is the only option. Now, with the PR coming into force the Centre would formulate and implement development and welfare initiatives for the state. The onus of law and order will be BJP-led Centre’s responsibility. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh will be responsible for everything –good or bad. But a prolonged period of governor’s rule would not be a right decision because every state needs its own government.