Assembly in Suspended Animation
…a market open for poaching and horse trading
The net was cast wide right on June, the 19th 2018, the day BJP withdrew support to Mehbooba Mufti-led government for poaching, by keeping the J&K assembly in suspended animation. In fact, it might have been planned earlier, given how certain agencies keep on working on how to run the state of Jammu and Kashmir on the direction of power that be. Mehbooba Mufti had a taste of evolving scenario, as she posed to take the moral high ground by not taking over the reins of power immediately after the death of her father, Mufti Mohammad Syed in January 2016. As she delayed the take-over, the ground was slipping under her feet. Her MLA’s were selling their loyalties faster than she could have imagined. She relented in the face of stark realities. Post June, the 19th she is realizing that her MLA’s are eager to regain the lost power. Assembly in suspended animation is a market open for poaching and horse-trading. Some have already switched loyalties, the grapevine has it that others are preparing to join the bandwagon, as and when the new power dispensing takes shape.
The phenomenon is known, ever since Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (SMA) was dethroned on August, the 9th 1953. The move was made after some of his closed colleagues were trapped and tasked to sign on the dotted line. The tale and the trail continued, any incumbent in power deemed to be getting big for his shoes was similarly treated. SMA’s successor—Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad met the same fate. His successor—GM Sadiq died before he would meet a similar fate. However, the dissension was sown while he was still alive. Mir Qasim had to step aside as SMA was reinstated. SMA’s heir apparent—Farooq Abdullah was axed in 1984 by planting defection; his brother-in-law GM Shah led a congress backed government of defectors. Shah had a turbulent year and a half in power, while Farooq Abdullah made up with the relevant quarters in Delhi.
Mufti Mohammad Syed had a hand in engineering defections of 80’s. Later, as Farooq Abdullah led power dispensing worked out an autonomy resolution with the turn of century, fears were expressed in power corridors that the regional outfit in the state could pose problems, which might be embarrassing for the powers that be. Mufti Syed until than a part of national parties floated another regional outfit. The division of space has been used to play one outfit against the other. Since 2000 elections, the divide in the regional space between Abdullah’s and Mufti’s has led either NC or PDP to align with a national party—Congress or BJP effectively defanging regional aspirations, if any. Parading the regional concern is taken to be politically expedient to retain the vote bank in the electoral field.
Post July 2016 as Burhan Wani was trapped and killed in Kokernag; Mahbooba Mufti has been rapidly losing ground in South Kashmir, taken to be the core constituency of Mufti’s. While remaining a part of the security grid that accounted for rising loss of lives, multiplying the injured and scores of dead eyes, at intervals Mahbooba would talk of reaching out to resistance formations and Pakistan for conflict resolution. Often, she would refer to ‘Agenda of Alliance (AoA)’ mutually agreed document of BJP and PDP for running the alliance, neglecting the fact that PM Modi had virtually torn it to shreds by telling Mufti Syed in a public meeting in Srinagar on November, the 7th 2015 that he needed no advice. Mufti had dared propose setting in a mechanism of conflict resolution by reaching out to Pakistan. As Mehbooba’s dwindling political fortunes forced her to propose ceasefire and follow it up with dialogue for conflict resolution, she was getting low in BJP estimates with every passing day. The additional factor remained BJP losing base in Jammu plains for varied reasons.
Mehbooba failed miserably to grasp the layout of the political chessboard. With BJP pulling the rug under her feet, she had no inkling of what befell her until Governor Vohra informed her of BJP’s decision to withdraw support. Perhaps she had a feel of her flock falling apart as soon as she would lose power, otherwise it would have been politically prudent to resign as soon as ceasefire was scrapped and propose dissolution of the house. By allowing BJP to get one-up on her, she might be in the process of presiding our dissolution of PDP. PDP MLA’s, some of them products of dynastic politics have accused Mehbooba of promoting family interests. Others have talked of breaking free of political dominance of two families—Abdullah’s and Mufti’s, in spite of grapevine having it that a third family might be promoted in contention with the existing two. While Ram Madhav plays down BJP’s game plan of forming the government, others in BJP admit that efforts are on.
In the emerging scenario, the seventh schedule of J&K constitution gets scant respect. While as para three of the related schedule initially made provision for recognition of a split, were more than one third members of a party in legislature to back it, an amendment in 2005-06 deleted para third, thus ruling out recognition of a split. How would the BJP get about this constitutional handicap would be interesting to watch. Would dethroning Mehbooba Mufti as party leader do the trick, as it is the party leader who informs the speaker of defection, thence disqualification? It would take a constitutional expert to answer that.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]