Rift in govt widens as PDP refuses to relent on unconditional talks
The divide within the ruling coalition has sharpened as PDP took on the BJP for not holding dialogue with the separatists here which the party sees contravention to the Agenda of Alliance (AOA) that was worked out between the two parties for the formation of government here.
The latest salvo was fired by Minister for Education, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, who asked BJP that exclusion of “dissent from a dialogue process is against the spirit of democracy.’’
He said that dialogue cannot have a rider or any pre-conditions in a democratic set-up. On Sunday, while responding to a question asked on the side-lines of his visit to his constituency, Bukhari said dialogue at all levels needs to be inclusive and cannot be conditional. “Dissent is the essence of democracy. Exclusion of the voices of dissent is against the spirit of a democratic polity. A lack of inclusive dialogue can only add to frustration and over time, generate rejection and more rebellion,” Bukhari cautioned.
The renewed call for dialogue by the PDP came even as many of the BJP leaders have been rejecting talks with separatists. On SaturdayBJP ruled out any possibility of talks with separatists, accusing them of playing politics of sentiments over dead bodies, which was also the stand that the government took in the Supreme Court on Friday.
BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav, said in his Facebook post that the “separatists have only one motto — one dead body a day, so that they can play sentimental politics over the dead bodies. They use the people of the Valley as guinea pigs in their reprehensible politics of violence and separatism,”
His remarks also reflected the stand Centre took in the Supreme Court recently when it rejected the suggestion to have open dialogue with separatists. In the wake of the developments and open squabbling by the coalition partners, Madhav also met Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, on Sunday, at her residence, and in their meeting the” deterioration in security scenario and the rift between the coalition partners over handling of Kashmir unrest’’ also came up for discussion. Madhav had a near 30-minute meeting with Mehbooba at her Fairview residence in Gupkar following which he flew to New Delhi and he had specially come from Jammu for a meeting with CM, in which he conveyed BJPs hard posture towards separatists.
BJP spokesperson, Khalid Jahangir, however said that Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, has also stated that the conditions have to be normalized before starting any talks with the separatists. “BJP has always stood for protecting the national interest. We don’t have any qualms in tackling to our own people, which was also reflected in the initiative that was taken by Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, by leading an all-party delegation to Kashmir.’’
Senior PDP leader and Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Minister, Chaudhary Zulfikar Ali, said that the BJP can’t renege on its commitment for holding the dialogue “with all the stakeholders.” “Already an Agenda of Alliance (AOA) has been worked out between the PDP and BJP under which it has been agreed that the talks have to be held,’’ he said.
Zulfikar added that the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has already assured Mehbooba Mufti that dialogue will be started with all stakeholders on Kashmir and has “imposed trust on her that she would help improve the conditions.” “We are working towards improving the conditions here under the leadership of Mehbooba Mufti,” he said.
Madhav’s meeting with Mehbooba on Sunday came in the wake of the deteriorating law and order situation here and rift between the coalition partners over statements by Madhav himself and senior BJP leader and Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga over handling of Kashmir situation. Ganga had fuelled controversy by calling for use of bullets on stone pelters in the Valley.
PDP also expressed displeasure over Madhav’s comments complimenting an army officer who had tied a man to the bonnet of a jeep to escape stone-pelting in a Kashmir village. Following the differences Chief Minsiter and PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, was conveyed by some leaders during the party’s core committee meeting that they must break off from alliance with BJP.
Both PDP and BJP have maintained a divergent line over the handling of Kashmir protests. Over Ganga’s ramarks on handling of protests PDP Vice President, Sartaj Madni, had taken exception terming them as uncalled for. Also Bukhari had earlier slammed Ram Madhav stating that his remarks “everything is fair in love and war” over use of human shield by army would legitimize crime. BJP hit back saying Minister’s remarks would “encourage separatists and other secessionists.”