BJP-PDP alliance in JK ended when Mehbooba delayed Panchayat Poll: PM Modi

BJP-PDP alliance in JK ended when Mehbooba delayed Panchayat Poll: PM Modi
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New Delhi, Apr 9: Terming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance with Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) an “experiment”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the BJP-PDP coalition government in the state ran its course when Mehbooba Mufti kept delaying panchayat election in the state.
In an exclusive interview with Rahul Joshi, Modi said the alliance hit a hurdle when Mufti, who had succeeded her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the chief minister and PDP chief after he passed away in 2016, remained reluctant over conducting rural body election in the state.
“When she asked for our support, we gave it. But when it came to panchayat election, she kept delaying, saying it would spark violence in the region,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said strains in the BJP-PDP coalition began when Sayeed passed away and Mufti came into the picture.
“It was working well during Mufti sahab’s time. When Mehbooba ji came, she was very reluctant. She did not step forward for two-three months which led to Governor’s rule in the state,” he said.
Later, the BJP supported Mufti, but after three years of coalition government, the saffron party pulled out of the alliance in June 2018, leading to Mufti’s resignation as CM and imposition of Governor’s rule in the state that is in effect to this day.
Modi said the BJP had hoped that regional parties PDP and National Conference (NC) would come together and form a government after 2014 Assembly election in the state.
The PDP had then emerged as the single-largest party, but had failed to cross the majority mark.
“The alliance with the PDP was an experiment. The Kashmir mandate was a fractured one. No single party could have formed the government. We waited for a long time in the hope that the PDP and NC would ally, but they could not see eye-to-eye,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said the BJP decided to side with the PDP to uphold the democratic option of forming a government in the state.
“After two-three months, we started talks with Mufti sahab, who was a senior leader. We had always maintained that our ideologies do not match, but we came forward to shoulder the responsibility. We thought we would attempt an experiment,” he said.
Modi maintained that there was no reason to delay panchayat election in the state that had witnessed peaceful election earlier as well.
“Recently, West Bengal saw violence during panchayat poll, but in Jammu and Kashmir, there was zero violence during election,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister added that peaceful election in the Valley was overlooked by the media at large.
“By continuous coverage of attacks, the media further fuels the Kashmir narrative. They must also show the progress and growth of the Kashmiri people,” he said.
Modi also reiterated his party’s stance on revoking Article 35A that provides special rights and privileges to its permanent citizens and Article 370 that gives autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. He said the provisions were an obstacle in the way of outside investment and job creation in the state.
The Prime Minister said Kashmiri political families had “used public sentiment for political gains”.
“The problem in Kashmir is largely due to 50-odd political families there. They have been milking the issue. They don’t want any benefit to be given to ordinary Kashmiris,” Modi said.
“People want freedom from such political families who have been preying on their emotions for 50 years. The situation in Kashmir is such that people want change, whether it is about Article 35A or 370,” he added.
Amid statements of abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A from BJP leaders in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, Kashmiri politicians have said the state’s accession to India was contingent on the constitutional provisions.
Condemning BJP leader Amit Shah’s statement that Article 370 would be removed by 2020, Mufti said, last week, that 2020 would then also be Jammu and Kashmir’s “deadline to the country” (to break its accession with India).
NC chief Farooq Abdullah also warned the Centre on Monday to refrain from pushing abrogation of Article 370 and said that such an act would “pave the way for Azadi for Kashmiri people”.
The Election Commission has deferred Assembly election in the state and would hold only parliamentary poll slated to begin on April 11.