‘Mehbooba Party Fanning Public Protest’

‘Mehbooba Party Fanning Public Protest’

3 August 2010
Times of India
Josy Joseph

Srinagar: Officials in the security establishment believe that the Centre needs to get Jammu & Kashmir’s main opposition party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), to contribute positively to end the stalemate in the Valley. For now, Mehbooba Mufti’s party is playing a negative role, they say. PDP is part of the problem, in fact a major part of it, said a senior official. It is an assessment shared by a vast majority in the security establishment, which is concerned about the widespread nature of the violent protests in Kashmir valley. These officials are also not impressed by the administrative capabilities shown by chief minister Omar Abdullah. They believe that he is aloof, faces far too much dissent from within the National Conference and is not running the state machinery with a firm grip. While Abdullah junior was summoned to New Delhi, and the Cabinet Committee on Security asked him to pull himself up, Mehbooba was having a free run, officials pointed out. Jammu and Kashmir’s main opposition party was not playing the role of a constructive opposition as the Valley burned, these officials complained in private. Instead, it was playing an extremely negative role in the ongoing crisis. A senior official, in fact, suggested that New Delhi needed to send a strong message to PDP if the situation had to be brought under control. PDP under Mehbooba has taken a very recalcitrant stand, refusing to cooperate with Omar’s efforts for peace. The lack of a civil understanding between the CM and the opposition leader was very visible when Omar organised an all-party meeting in the second week of July. Despite PM Manmohan Singh calling up Mehbooba, the PDP boycotted the all-party meet, saying it would find no end to the trouble. Now, the situation has gone worse, with violence spreading across other parts too. What was then murmurs of PDP’s role in escalating the street agitation is now becoming part of most assessments here. Officials argue that PDP’s role has expanded in the crisis. Many PDP leaders, including some MLAs, were actively involved in leading agitations, said a senior official. The lack of any kind of understanding between the ruling side and opposition has also contributed to further marginalise the mainstream parties. While the overall anarchy is being dictated by the hardline fundamentalists, the state machinery is drifting without a firm anchor. All through the crisis, Mehbooba has stridently criticised the state government but has not called on Omar to step down. The strategy is to wear him out and get him to quit.


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