JAMMU, June 19: Unlike the general perception that the PDP leadership was caught off-guard over the decision of BJP to withdraw support, the fact is that the top leadership of both parties were privy to the developments and well aware of the fact that the uneasy, often fractious alliance between the two would come to an end anytime.
Party insiders told EXCELSIOR, “the top hierarchy of the BJP including Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh had in the past several months during their interactions with Chief Minister; Mehbooba Mufti discussed the issue of strained relations between the two ideologically apart coalitions partners”.
“Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti and her trusted lieutenants were also informed about the political compulsions of the saffron party in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls and what was worrying for the former, was that the failure to control the turbulence in Valley was taking the sheen off its nationalistic agenda”, sources said adding, “the final nail in the coffin of coalition was the high levels of turbulence during the conditional ceasefire announced by MHA in the month of Ramzan”.
“Though Centre had committed itself to the development agenda of the State as per the Agenda of Alliance and ensured liberal flow of funds to the border State, it’s prime objective was to restore peace in the State and curb the rising levels of violence”, sources said, adding, “the issue had also been deliberated by the Prime Minister in his meeting with the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti on February 28 and April 10 in the Union Capital this year”.
“While Mehbooba stuck to her party’s political agenda, which favoured holding of dialogue with all stakeholders within the State and even with the neighbouring country, the BJP hierarchy had made it clear that the outcome of dialogue would depend on the response on ground from separatists and the adversary across the border”, sources asserted.
The issues confronting the coalition Government were also discussed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir on May 19.
The Centre had announced liberal funding to the State and special package worth Rs 80,000 crore under a special Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) in pursuit of peace in the State, but wasn’t happy with the slow implementation of the project on ground. “Most of the priority projects listed under the PMDP suffered hiccups and the State’s bureaucracy had often come under criticism for its failure to execute the development agenda of the Centre”, sources asserted.
“Regular killing of soldiers in skirmishes along the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) by Pakistani forces and the migration along the border had also complicated the problems of the Centre, which had come under sharp criticism from opposition parties for failure to handle the situation”, sources remarked.
Heeding to repeated demands by the PDP leadership for ceasefire and despite stiff opposition from the Defence Ministry, the Centre announced suspension of operations at the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan on May 17 while stating that the decision had been taken in the interest of peace loving people. However, there were 18 incidents of terror between April 17 and May 17 this year and the figure rose to above 50 during the suspension of operations and several soldiers were also killed along the borders with Pakistan.
“The conditional ceasefire failed to achieve the desired result, with neither the separatists responding to the bold initiative of the Centre nor Pakistan showing any let-down in its efforts to escalate levels of violence in the border State. The suspension of operations saw brutal killings which included that of an Army soldier by militants, attack on civilians propagating moderate approach and gunning down of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari”, sources pointed out.
On June 7, the Union Home Minister had personally visited the State for on spot assessment of the situation in the backdrop of increasing ceasefire violations by Pakistan and the cessation of operations against militants, announced by Centre during the Ramzan. During his visit, the Home Minister conducted a detailed security review on the present situation in the Valley with multiple agencies and even met people affected by cross-border shelling and shared his final assessment of the situation with the Prime Minister.
Though certain PDP leaders had favoured continuation of conditional ceasefire, Home Ministry made it clear that it would not extend the suspension of operations against militants and would respond with full force in view of the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, which starts on June 28.
Source further added, “these developments had put further pressure on the already strained relations of the coalition partners and both BJP and PDP knew that time was running out for the coalition”.
Today’s announcement comes barely two days after the Home Ministry had said that it wouldn’t extend the suspension of operations against militants in the State.