Home / Politics / Policy /  J&K’s PDP-BJP alliance faces test of inherent contradictions

New Delhi: Just over a week after the Peoples Democratic Alliance (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came together to form a historic alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, the coalition government is being tested by its inherent contradictions.

The decision to free Muslim League leader Masarat Alam, who has been in prison for four years for his alleged role in street riots in Srinagar in 2010, on Friday has shocked and angered the BJP leadership, which is finding it increasingly difficult to explain its ally’s recent actions to its cadre.

The big question is whether these are the usual teething problems of a new alliance or whether these steps have already harmed the relationship beyond repair. At the moment, the BJP will not say if it plans to take the inclement step of breaking the alliance, while PDP leaders are trying to paper over the differences between the two parties.

The alliance, described as “the coming together of the North Pole and South Pole" by chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, was formed in the aftermath of the hung assembly after the Jammu and Kashmir election in November-December 2014.

Several analysts, while admitting the inherent contradictions, saw in the grand alliance an opportunity to redress two divides—one between the Muslim-majority Kashmir and Hindu-majority Jammu, and another between the secession-hit Kashmir valley and the rest of India.

Angry BJP members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) convened a meeting on Sunday to discuss the decision of the chief minister. BJP leaders argue that issues related to the security situation in the state cannot be taken without consulting the cabinet.

“The alliance between BJP and PDP is an unlikely tie-up. The two parties are fundamentally different so problems will happen between the two parties. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is the chief minister of the state and also the home minister so he is within his rights to release Masarat Alam," a BJP leader from the state who played a key role in forming the government said on condition of anonymity. “But Sayeed could have at least spoken to the deputy chief minister or informed him about his decision. The decision was not even discussed in the cabinet. BJP leaders were caught unawares."

The BJP is upset with the PDP for its alleged failure to keep its alliance partner or deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh informed about major decisions being taken by the new government, which is yet to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly.

The BJP is also unhappy with the allocation of portfolios, with the PDP having taken the key ministries, including home, finance, education, revenue, rural development, and law and justice.

“BJP leaders are very annoyed with the distribution of portfolio and (separatist leader turned politician) Sajjad Lone is also not pleased with his ministry. PDP leaders have been telling us that their own ministers are not happy with the kind of ministries they have been given. So a lot of people are annoyed and those close to the chief minister are happy," the BJP leader said.

Members of the BJP also say that the issue of Article 370, which guarantees the state a special status in the Union of India but which the BJP opposes, was not addressed properly in the common minimum programme (CMP) released by the chief minister on 1 March after the swearing in ceremony in Jammu.

“If we read the wording in the CMP on Article 370, it is exactly what the PDP had said in its manifesto. There is no change, BJP leaders would have preferred a softer approach," said the BJP leader.

Meanwhile, PDP leaders point out that while they are aware that BJP leaders are annoyed with some of the decisions, there is no immediate threat to the alliance. “Senior leaders of the PDP are already talking to central leaders of the BJP and the differences will be resolved," said a cabinet minister from the PDP who declined to be named.

Political analysts say friction is inevitable as such an alliance has never been attempted in Jammu and Kashmir. They also say both the allies will have to fine-tune their respective messages to avoid friction even while they address the core concerns of their respective supporters.

“The BJP will try to portray that it is not on the defensive and the PDP will try to act according to the people who have voted for them," said Ellora Puri, a political analyst and political science professor at Jammu University. “Both the parties will have to answer the concerns of the people who elected them

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