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GOWHAR GEELANI | 12 FEBRUARY, 2015

Is Kashmir’s Mufti as Courageous as Kejriwal?

Does Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have the courage to go for a re-election in Jammu and Kashmir?


NEW DELHI: The Kashmir Valley, especially the youth, followed the Delhi election process and its results on television screens and enthusiastically commented upon the same on popular social media networking sites.

This was perhaps for the first time that Kashmiris kept a vigil on each development and every single detail in relation to a Delhi Assembly elections, closely monitoring the progress of Aam Aadmi Party as it battled the Bharatiya Janata party in the national capital of India.

Kashmir's local media painstakingly commented upon the Delhi election results in its editorial and Op-ed pages.

Also, the two Srinagar based newspapers, Urdu and English, published cartoons, ridiculing the BJP's embarrassing loss in Delhi.

Veteran cartoonist Bashir Ahmad Bashir, aka BAB, working for Urdu daily, Srinagar Times, drew a cartoon under the heading 'Swacch Bharat', which illustrated the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader holding a big broom in his hand, sweeping all the BJP leaders and candidates from the scene in no time.

Similarly, Kashmir's emerging cartoonist Mir Suhail Qadiri, who works for the English daily, Kashmir Reader, also drew a cartoon with Kejriwal in charge of the broom with a clear mission to rid Delhi of the 'arrogant' BJP.

As the results came out on February 10 and it was clear that the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP had swept the elections, the Kashmiri youth were as active on the social media as those in the hinterland.

There were some satirical comments like "my friend says Nano car has more seats than the BJP got in Delhi" as well. Some even went on to say that now the BJP has got the message "not to talk about abrogation of the Article 370 ever in Jammu & Kashmir, because the party got only 3/70 in the Delhi elections."

All of this is pretty interesting and relevant in the backdrop of the proposed PDP-BJP alliance, which is being seen as "unholy" by the majority in the Kashmir valley.

The manner in which the people of Kashmir expressed their immense joy at the BJP's defeat in Delhi polls has sent a clear message to the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Peoples Democratic Party in the Valley. This puts additional pressure on the PDP to review its now-almost-certain decision to forge an alliance with the BJP.

New Delhi's assembly election verdict has definite echoes in the Kashmir Valley. Senior Kashmiri journalist Naseer Ganai, wrote in his latest article that "after the AAP sweep in Delhi, the PDP is under immense pressure either to take the support of the Congress party and the National Conference or opt for re-election."

There are, of course, very clear indications from the PDP that its attempts to stitch up a coalition with the BJP shall not be impacted with the results of Delhi elections.

This is one side of the coin, though.

On the other based also on hindsight, it appears that the PDP might find itself in a better bargaining position after the Delhi election results. An indicator was the , the hard hitting statement against the BJP asking it to “mend its ways” afer the results were declared. He said, "Delhi elections have asserted the diversity of our country and the need to respect it. If there ever was a need for course correction for the BJP the voters of Delhi have brought it home to the party loud and clear."

Mufti's statement should be interpreted in light of the contentious issues between the PDP and the BJP, for instance the resumption of composite dialogue with Pakistan, dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference, revocation of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), demilitarization, resettlement of the West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) in Jammu & Kashmir, etc.

Arithmetically speaking, the PDP-BJP partnership was the only suitable option to give the people of Jammu and Kashmir a stable government once the elections results were declared on December 23 last year. But if it were so easy to forge such an obvious alliance it would not have taken 51 long days to decide the inevitable.

Clearly, there are contentious issues between the two parties that need further deliberation.

There is an argument put forth by some sections of the Indian media and analysts that the electoral verdict of the people of Jammu Province can't be brushed aside, as the BJP bagged all its 25 seats from the Jammu region.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the Jammu-ites overwhelmingly voted in favour of the BJP. Whether their vote had a communal flavour or was cast purely for development, employment and better governance should be an interesting and significant debate. In the spirit democracy one cannot ignore the 25 seats that went into the BJP's kitty from Jammu.

The larger question, however, is what about the verdict of the Kashmiri and Ladakhi people, who voted in unprecedented number partly with an aim to stop the BJP wave at Pir Panjal? Perhaps their verdict (28, PDP+12, Congress +15, National Conference+1, Awami Ittehad Party+1, Communist Party+2, Independent= 59 seats) counts for nothing. And, they say, democracy is a game of numbers!

Meanwhile, it is for Mufti Sayeed to take a call whether he has the courage ala Arvind Kejriwal to wait for re-elections to emerge as a "hero"? Or rushes into a government with the BJP in the lust for power? The last will destroy his political career in Kashmir at least which has reposed trust and faith in the PDP and his pledge that the party “would not compromise its core values, guiding principles and ideology."

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