Prime Minister Narendra Modi today nixed the possibility of separate Sadar-e-Riyasat and Wazir-e-Azam posts (equivalent to President and Prime Minister) in Jammu and Kashmir. He also accused the state's local leadership - the Abdullah and Mufti families - of encouraging separatism and perpetuating dynastic rule, triggering prompt Twitter jibes from their leaders.
"One country cannot have two Prime Ministers, two flags and two constitutions. That commitment made by Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee is our firm resolve," news agency PTI quoted him as saying.
"The Abdullah and Mufti families destroyed the lives of three generations of people in Jammu and Kashmir. The state's bright future can be ensured only after their departure. They can bring their entire clan into field, can abuse Modi as much as they want, but they won't be able to divide this nation," he said at a rally in Jammu's Kathua, the site of the horrific rape and murder of a nine-year-old from a Nomadic Muuslim family that made headlines last year.
The Congress, ally to National Conference, has also been targetted by the BJP. "Some people are so involved in anti-Modi tirade that they have forgotten all about the country's security," news agency IANS quoted PM Modi as saying. "The Congress and its allies keep politics above the security of the country."
The traditional BJP stance of scrapping Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution -- which give Jammu and Kashmir its special status -- has blown up into a huge political controversy in the state. The articles have been challenged in court, bringing together the politicians, separatists and civil society and pitching them against the Centre.
Over the last weeks, Farooq Abdullah, the chief of National Conference, and his son, Omar Abdullah, have spoken of the party's aim of restoring the two posts promised by the Constitution. Both leaders have reminded the BJP that scrapping the two articles will unravel the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India and call for fresh negotiations.
Omar Abdullah has also reminded the BJP that their party's stance was the same during the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but they were not accused of having secessionist ideology.
PM Modi's taunt about dynastic rule set off vehement Twitter attacks. Omar Abdullah tweeted:
This is how much Modi ji believes what he says. Look how happy he is to seal an alliance with one of the families he wants to rid J&K politics of. pic.twitter.com/SFtdXJjbhI— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 14, 2019
It was a rare occasion where PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti also found herself on the side of her arch-rival.
Exhibit B. Modi ji looks thrilled to be greeted by a dynast. pic.twitter.com/qJbKlKGyjn— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 14, 2019
Despite their disparate ideology, the BJP and PDP had come together to form government after the last assembly elections in the state. The alliance, however, started to unravel soon after the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the BJP ended the tie-up in June last year.
The BJP had won both Lok Sabha seats in Hindu-majority Jammu and the one in Ladakh in 2014, the PDP had won all three seats in Kashmir Valley.