Tenuous Alliance Yet To Walk Growth Talk

31 August 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: Initial hiccups notwithstanding, keeping the bond between diametrically opposed alliance partners intact seems to be the only noticeable achievement of the ruling PDP-BJP dispensation in the first six months of its power. On March 1 when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the maiden PDP-BJP government in the state, political pundits were not too optimistic about its survival as the alliance partners represent ideologies which are poles apart. Immediately after being sworn in as the Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed had said the coming together of the two parties (PDP and BJP) was like the meeting of 'the North Pole and the South Pole'. 'History has given us a chance to work for bringing peace and development in the state. We should respect the mandate of the people. In Jammu, the BJP has got the mandate while in Kashmir, the PDP has got it,' Mufti Sayeed had said to justify the alliance between the ideologically different political parties. So far, the leaders of both the parties have exhibited flexibility by sidelining their respective political agendas to ensure smooth functioning of the coalition. In the last six months, both parties have only been pursuing the development agenda to avoid confrontation on political issues as leaders of both the PDP and the BJP are aware that any tricky issue can snowball into a political controversy in J&K. Although residents of Jammu and Kashmir are yet to taste equitable growth, the only focus of the coalition regime is to propagate the development agenda. 'The PDP-BJP government is a model of unity in diversity,' observed Mufti Sayeed as he stressed partnering with a strong Centre was in the state's interest. 'The alliance will put Jammu and Kashmir firmly on the path of peace, development and self-reliance,' he said. While six months is surely too brief a period to judge the performance of any government, it appears that the PDP-BJP regime will try to confine itself to the 'Agenda for Alliance' to avoid any confrontation. The initial couple of months of the government were marked with controversies and policy paralysis, but now leaders of both the parties are trying to evolve a consensus on contentious issues. 'The new government has been given a rare opportunity by the people to provide a transparent and smart government in collaboration with the strong NDA government at the Centre,' Mufti Sayeed had said after the formation of the PDP-BJP government. 'Our common minimum programme is in the public domain. We will fulfil wishes and aspirations of all the people. For this, we need an enabling atmosphere that promotes peace in the region,' he had said. What made news March 1: Within hours of taking oath, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed creates massive controversy when he credited Hurriyat and militant outfits for creating conducive atmosphere for holding elections. March 7: Government releases separatist leader Masarat Alam, leaving BJP fuming. April 9: CM rules out separate township for Pandits in Kashmir, mainly because of pressure from separatists. April 21: Mufti constitutes high-level group of five ministers to initiate steps to implement 'Agenda of the Alliance'. April 19: State govt announces new recruitment policy to make?appointments on contractual basis, bringing widespread criticism. April 24: Jammu observes unprecedented shutdown over shifting of AIIMS to Kashmir without BJP support. May 15: Amid AIIMS controversy, CM adds fuel to fire by saying artificial lake project over Tawi stands abandoned. May 27: Jammu again observes bandh to express resentment over denial of AIIMS, causing embarrassment to BJP in its bastion. June 16: Centre announces Rs 1,600-crore package for flood victims against the state's demand for Rs 44,000 crore. The decision was widely criticised, especially in Valley. June 20: Deputy CM Nirmal Singh gives written assurance to AIIMS Coordination Committee that AIIMS will be sanctioned for Jammu within a month. July 1: State orders termination of services of 63 'corrupt' and 'deadwood' govt officers, including those from KAS. July 30: Centre announces AIIMS-like facilities in both Jammu and Kashmir regions. August 1: Protests continue in Jammu as there was no clarity over establishment of AIIMS. August 10: Govt orders verification of degrees of ReT teachers. August 25: Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey puts in papers over differences with govt.