Ahead Of Modi's J&K Visit, Cracks In PDP Wide Open

22 October 2015
The Hindu
Mehboob Jeelani

New Delhi: The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir has asked its workers to show up in large numbers to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on November 6. As the State mourns Zahid Ahmed, the diktat hasn't gone down well with several party leaders and activists. Zahid, a Kashmiri trucker, was attacked on September 9, allegedly by Bajrang Dal activists, in Udhampur district as he was driving back to Srinagar. Senior PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra, the most vocal critic of the BJP-PDP alliance, told The Hindu that the party had lost ground after hitching itself with the BJP and that was 'hurting the interests' of Kashmiri people. 'This alliance has been thrust down the throats of the people. I have been requesting the Chief Minister to revisit the arrangement and break away from it,' said Mr. Karra, an MP. Last week, when PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti announced a party convention, many disillusioned PDP leaders like Mr. Karra hoped that the party would come up with a solution. 'We thought madam [Mahbooba] might hint at a rethink on the alliance, or at least say something that indicated the party is concerned about the growing public anger,' said a PDP worker who attended the convention. Mr. Karra said that it was becoming hard for several PDP legislators to visit their constituencies. 'They fear being beaten up.' The pubic anger against the PDP is growing for several reasons. The long delay in the flood relief and Prime Minister Modi's silence on the special package that many PDP leaders spoke about had disappointed the Kashmiri people. The fear of cultural invasion, triggered by the RSS and its ideological affiliates, had made them insecure and impatient. Incidents like Independent MLA Engineer Rashid being assaulted by BJP legislators in the State assembly for hosting a beef party and the subsequent killing of Zahid have only confirmed their fears. The cracks within the party are visible. Senior leader Muzzaffer Hussain Baigh openly criticised the PDP's positioning and its decision to continue its alliance with the BJP amidst growing hate crimes against Muslims. Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Syeed is, however, complaining that party leaders were not being enthusiastic about the Prime Minister's visit to Kashmir. 'He (Syeed) kept telling them that they should come out in large numbers to welcome the Prime Minister, that the Prime Minister deserves due respect,' a PDP leader said.