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Political tremors in J&K

Political tremors in J&K

The restive state of Jammu and Kashmir has once again plunged into political instability with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tendering her resignation after coalition partner BJP withdrew from the government. The PDP-BJP alliance was formed in 2015 after the Assembly election threw up a fractured mandate. PDP had emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats while the BJP won 25 seats. National Conference (NC), which was in power before the election, could manage to win only 15 seats in a house of 87 members. Congress won 12 seats. In the three years of PDP-BJP rule in the state, little has been achieved as the two parties had divergent views on most issues. As the people in the state are politically divided with a section demanding and fighting for complete freedom, certain areas in the state, especially Kashmir valley, has witnessed decades of turmoil and unrest. Another group representing other regions of the state such as Jammu is opposed to separatists' demands. While regional parties like PDP and NC try hard to strike a balance between the two sharply divided political viewpoints, BJP maintains a hawkish attitude on the issue of Kashmir. Even now when it has withdrawn itself from the government, its contention is that the Mufti government was not able to address the security concerns effectively. In view of Pakistan's active involvement in fomenting unrest by sending trained and armed militants, the Indian security establishment has reinforced its presence in the valley and in the process has become a major stakeholder in maintaining peace and order in the state. While political parties represent divergent political views, the security forces represent India's resolve to maintain normalcy in the state. With the BJP government at the Centre, the party has to take a call on what policies it wants to pursue in the state. On the appeal of Mehbooba Mufti, the Centre had suspended military operations against militants in the state during the month of Ramazan but the ceasefire initiative was not reciprocated by the militants. Even during the period of ceasefire and Ramazan, violence and militant activities continued unabated in the state. The Centre had plans to extend the ceasefire if it helped bring down violence in the state. But looking at the ceasefire violations by militants, the Centre has suspended the ceasefire with the end of Ramazan. With the dissolution of the Mufti government, decks have been cleared for a direct rule of the Centre in the state. Now, the Centre would formulate and implement development and welfare initiatives for the state while the armed forces would take care of security concerns. The role of people's representatives in putting forth and articulating people's demands and aspirations would be limited.

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