Jammu And Kashmir Stares At Possibility Of President's Rule

7 January 2015
The New Indian Express
Santwana Bhattacharya

New Delhi: With the January 19 deadline for government formation in Jammu & Kashmir fast approaching, coupled with the fact that a common ground continues to elude the PDP and the BJP,the possibility of President's rule looms large over the border state. Sources said that the heightened tensions at the borders and the Gujarat 'terror boat' incident have also skewed the chances of such a coming together of the PDP (which, with 28 MLAs, has emerged as the largest party) and the BJP (25 seats) for forming a democratically-elected administration in the state. A PDP-BJP coalition Government would have given the two large regions of the state - Kashmir and Jammu - almost equal representation in the administration and changed its development paradigm, with easy Central aid. But the PDP has been pretty insistent that the ruling party at the Centre does not rake up the issue of Article 370 in the next six years and also promise to scrap the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). However, the BJP has refused to make any such commitment so far. Sources point out that in the present charged up environment where Pakistan is pointedly targeting the Samba region and 'Hindu-dominated villages on the border', it will be 'anathema' for the BJP and Narendra Modi Government to agree on to any dilution of the AFSPA 'even in a phased manner'. That being the scenario, the possibility of a PDP-BJP Government in the state seems remote. Meanwhile, J&K Governor N N Vohra is taking all efforts to form an elected government. Mufti and his daughter Mehabooba are stuck on AFSPA, a key election plank of the party. The PDP also feels that it is crucial to win over the support of disparate elements for the smooth running of the state. The PDP, however, is keen to form a government by which the recently flood-ravaged J&K gets enough development funds. What 'is worrisome', though, high-level sources admit, is that another stint of Governor's Rule will not only erode the people's faith in the democratic process but also make the high voters turnout appear futile. Sources said that unless the PDP and the BJP make the extra effort- 'act in a mature manner' - and come together to provide stability and development putting aside contentious issues, there was distinct possibility of the state plunging into another bout of militancy and dark days. Though JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav is said have been holding back-channel talks to bring the PDP, the Congress and the NC together to form a government, sources said that would neither be fair nor functional as such a dispensation will have no representation from the Jammu region.