This Article is From Jun 19, 2018

Dumped By BJP, Mehbooba Mufti Says Muscular Policy Won't Work In Kashmir

Mehbooba Mufti took credit for the centre's dialogue offer and the recent ceasefire in Kashmir, saying it had "brought a lot of relief to the people"

Mehbooba Mufti says her party won't try to form another alliance after its breakup with BJP

SRiNAGAR: As Jammu and Kashmir heads for a spell of governor's rule following the BJP's divorce to its partner of three years, Peoples Democratic Party boss Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday sought to present a strong defence of her party's decision to ally with the BJP back in 2015. She also sent a message to her constituents in the Kashmir valley that its alliance with the BJP, described by the opposition Congress as a "Himalayan blunder", had helped her protect the state's interests and influence the centre's policy in the state's interest.

Just hours earlier, BJP's point person for J&K Ram Madhav had announced the end of the BJP-PDP coalition government and held Chief Minister Mufti's leadership responsible for the alliance's premature termination. Ms Mufti, who met Governor NN Vohra soon after and resigned from the Chief Minister's chair, did not hit back directly.

Instead she chose to outline what she said, were her government's achievements.

She also insisted that the PDP's unlikely alliance with the BJP after an inconclusive election in 2014 wasn't drive by its desperation to come to power but to work for the people.

The statement, which came after she told Governor Vohra that her party wasn't going to attempt to form another alliance, is seen as an effort to prep for the next round of assembly elections.

Mehbooba Mufti started her press conference by raising Article 370 and Article 35A, under which the state enjoys a special status, and said "...we have safeguarded Article 370 and 35-A (of the Constitution) and we will continue to do that".

The Chief Minister said Jammu and Kashmir was not an enemy territory as being perceived by few. "We have always said muscular security policy will not work in J-K... reconciliation is key," she said, before she went on to list the administration's decision to withdraw 11,000 cases against young men and women facing police cases for throwing stones at security forces.

Ms Mufti, who was seen to have persuaded the central government to put the offensive against terror groups in Kashmir on hold during Ramzan, said it had "brought a lot of relief to the people".

She also counted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprise stopover in Lahore to meet then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in December 2015 as an achievement of the coalition government.

Between the lines, PDP leaders suggest the message from Mehbooba Mufti's brief media conference was to counter the opposition criticism that the alliance was a mistake and drive home the point that it was able to get the BJP-led central government to tone down its approach towards Kashmir. The BJP has long favoured a tough approach to deal with violence in Kashmir valley, while the PDP had advocated a softer touch to address the grievances in the state.

Omar Abdullah of the opposition National Conference sought to counter this effort with a tweet.
 With the PDP and the opposition National Conference ruling out any possibility of the two parties joining hands, Jammu and Kashmir is set to come under Governor's rule in the state. Direct rule by the central government would give the BJP-led central government a free hand to control the state ahead of a general election.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who had been a sharp critic of the PDP-BJP alliance, has also declared his party won't help the PDP stay in power and an offer that he had made to support its regional rival after the fractured mandate in the 2014 assembly elections had "expired". "It was a one-time offer," Mr Abdullah said.