scorecardA Fractured Verdict Paves Way For Governor’s Rule
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A Fractured Verdict Paves Way For Governor’s Rule

A Fractured Verdict Paves Way For Governor’s Rule
PoliticsPolitics3 min read

Even after a high turnout that was witnessed for the first time in last 28 years, Jammu and Kashmir failed to get a government. Eighteen days after the results to tumultuous assembly elections were declared, political parties could not cobble up together to stake a claim. This results in the state slipping into Governor’s rule and N N Vohra taking over the reins of the administration.

The Governor’s rule has disappointed people at large as they were expecting a government in place. Since Omar Abdullah, who headed the NC-Congress coalition for six years declined to continue as care taker chief minister which he could have till January 18 when the term of the Assembly would end, there was no alternative but to fill the vacuum with a spell of Governor’s rule.

Not only the people had voted for a change, that was reflected in results and looked forward for better governance, but people particularly in Kashmir had pinned hopes for a speedy rehabilitation process for flood victims. Kashmir had seen severe floods in September, affecting nearly a million people. A proper government was need of the hour to address their requirements.

However, the fractured mandate that these elections threw up temporarily blocked the road to formation of a government. Not only were the seats divided among many parties but the clear division on the communal lines also played a significant role in this delay. As Jammu preferred BJP, this marked the beginning of the end of a fragile unity of a state that is diverse in nature. In contrast, Kashmiris have voted for all from PDP to NC and Congress. Regional aspirations must have played a role in Kashmir but not the religion. Even as people were outraged on the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during Congress-led UPA, the Sopore constituency where from he hailed ironically returned a Congress candidate to the Assembly.

Out of 87-member house, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) emerged as the single largest party with 28 followed by BJP with 25, National Conference 15, Congress 12 and others seven. Both NC and Congress extended support to PDP to form the government to keep BJP away and this could be possible with the support of few independents. Reports suggested that both BJP and NC had a “failed” round of negotiations in Delhi two days after the results were declared. But both parties denied the same.

For PDP, the situation turned piquant. On the one hand they maintained that they couldn’t trust NC and going with Congress, according to a PDP insider was “against the mandate of people”, but on other they had to walk on a razor’s edge to deal with BJP.

Both PDP and BJP are ideologically poles apart. BJP’s integrationist agenda for Kashmir is diametrically opposite to PDP’s Self Rule. Still they had opened up back channel communication and even exchanged papers for stitching up an alliance. PDP’s patron and old hoarse of Kashmir politics Mufti Mohammad Sayeed weighed more on having BJP alliance and to give time to mature it was not his worry. By exploring this option he wants to carry along the Jammu region, which has overwhelmingly voted for BJP. “There would be a vacuum if we would go with NC or PDP as there would be zero participation in the government from Jammu as no elected member could join cabinet from the Hindu dominated belt” a senior PDP leader explained. So the motive was to seek more time to find a middle road.

But Omar Abdullah’s decision to call it a day halfway prompted the Governor to recommend his rule. The talks between PDP and BJP have not been called off and BJP has not refused to discuss three crucial points of Mufti’s agenda viz resumption of dialogue with Pakistan and separatists, keeping Article 370 off the table, strengthening cross LOC CMB’s and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas. Sources say that structured dialogue may begin next week.

However, the fact is that the state is in a chaotic situation where the administration has to be manned by a few bureaucrats. The successful elections, which always are a challenge in Jammu and Kashmir, had rekindled the hope for a stable government but it worsened those prospects and a commoner in Kashmir is fuming that why political parties could not put their inherent acrimony behind and move forward to give them a government they deserved. With Governor’s rule in place, only worry now is that Delhi is not repeated in Jammu and Kashmir. No one wants a re-election in the state.
About the author: The writer is a senior journalist and Editor of Rising Kashmir, Srinagar.
Disclaimer: This is the author's own opinion.