Srinagar: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti is all set to lead a scathing attack against former alliance partner, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), in a rally on January 7 – the death anniversary her father and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Sayeed.
Party officials involved in organising Mehbooba’s first proper rally in over a year said that the former J&K CM will open up about “rifts with the BJP during the alliance”. The rally is scheduled to take place in Bijbehara, a PDP bastion in South Kashmir.
A senior party official said Mehbooba’s January 7 speech , among other things, will bring out the “four key differences” that the party had with the BJP towards the end of their alliance.
“People have the right to know what was happening behind the scenes and the pressure that the PDP was under during the alliance with the BJP. We pushed back as much as we could, but in the end the BJP decided to part ways. They (BJP have their own ideas on how to deal with Kashmir and those ideas do not fall in line with what PDP stands for,” a senior party leader said, requesting anonymity.
PDP leaders speaking to The Wire did not reveal more about the “rifts” with the BJP and weren’t willing to be quoted for the story.
However, following the January 7 rally, and depending upon the posture Mehbooba will take on the day, it is possible that the PDP and its leaders will put out aggressive statements against their former partner.
A fine balance
Since the fall of PDP-BJP government in June 2018, PDP hasn’t gone overboard when it comes to issuing statements against the BJP or the central government.
The same cannot be said for the BJP, whose several senior leaders have not exactly held back. In latest development, BJP workers held a demonstration outside J&K House in New Delhi to protests Mehbooba’s visit to families of militants who have allegedly harassed by the police.
A senior PDP leader said the party’s top brass has decided to take on the BJP next week in a bid to gain some lost ground in the Valley as the regional party has in the past come under heavy criticism for allying with the saffron party.
“One major difference that PDP developed with BJP was over Kathua rape and murder of the minor girl. Some of this has already been reported but not many know how much pressure did the centre put on us for handing the case over to CBI. Madam (Mehbooba) was of the belief that if the case will go to CBI, we would have a outcome similar to what we saw in the Shopian rape and murder case,”said the politician, referring to the May 2009 case that had led to massive protests in south Kashmir.
One other issue, party officials said, that Mehbooba is likely to bring up is about the Centre’s determination to put an end to funerals of Kashmiri militants held by locals.”The idea was to not give back the bodies to their families. We were dead against it, ” he added.
Sources added that PDP’s demand to extend the ‘Ramzan ceasefire’ and to hold talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat were some other issues that the BJP and PDP differed on. One PDP leader, however, added that the entire BJP leadership was not on board with the “muscular policy” the government had towards Kashmir.
“In BJP, and at the Centre, there were leaders who were in favour of extending the ceasefire. But the senior brass of the party and the RSS thought otherwise,” alleged the PDP leader.
Up until now, when asked about their alliance with the saffron party, leaders of PDP have frequently evoked BJP leader former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On several occasions, the party has talked about how the PDP was expecting the Narendra Modi-led NDA to have a “soft approach” towards Kashmir – as was the case with Vajpayee, according to the PDP.
Whether or not the party will turn a page and return to its pre-2014 anti-BJP stand will only be know on January 7.