Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir caretaker CM Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday that the People's Democratic Party (PDP) did not join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for power, but to build an atmosphere of reconciliation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing the press after the BJP broke alliance with the PDP, she said, "I submitted my resignation to the Governor and have told him that we are not looking to explore any other alliance... We had formed the alliance with BJP because we shared a grand vision. It took us many months to form an alliance whose prime focus was reconciliation and dialogue."
Mehbooba added, "I am not shocked... We didn't do this alliance for power. This alliance had a bigger motive - unilateral ceasefire, PM's visit to Pakistan, withdrawal of 11,000 cases against the stone pelters... We had always said muscular security policy will not work in J&K, reconciliation is key."
She began her press conference by raising Article 370, under which the state enjoys a special status and said, "We have safeguarded Article 370 and 35-A (of the Constitution) and we will continue to do that."
The PDP and the BJP formed a coalition more than two months after the December 2014 elections returned a hung verdict, in which the PDP got 28 seats and the BJP 25, while the National Conference bagged 15 seats and the Congress managed to win 12 in a House of 89. The government came to power on March 1, 2015.
The BJP on Tuesday pulled out of the PDP-led J&K government, citing growing terror activities and radicalisation in the Valley making its continuance "untenable". BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said, at a press conference, that deputy CM Kavinder Gupta and nine other ministers from the party have tendered their resignation to Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The state leaders were called to the national capital for urgent consultations.
The move came less than a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections and a couple of months after the BJP had replaced its Deputy CM in the wake of outrage over Kathua rape incident. It also came two days after the Centre decided not to continue with the ceasefire.
"After reviewing the work of the government in the last three years and after consultations with the Home Ministry and the agencies and after consultations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, we have come to the conclusion that it is difficult for the coalition to move forward in J&K. It has become untenable for the BJP to continue the alliance in the state in the situation that has developed today. Terrorism and violence have increased in the Valley and radicalisation is fast spreading. Fundamental rights of citizens and right to free speech of people have come under threat in the valley as symbolised by the murder of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari in broad daylight in Srinagar," Madhav said, as per IANS.
The BJP leader said that the coalition was formed with an intention of restoring peace in Kashmir and encouraging fast development in all the three regions of the state including Jammu and Ladakh.
"The BJP did its best to give a good government. The Centre had given a package of Rs 80,000 crore. The Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) had made several visits to the state and the Central government had also appointed an interlocutor in a sincere attempt to resolve issues in Kashmir. On the border also, we took steps to contain violence by erecting 4,000 bunkers. Whatever the state government wanted we were ready to give," he said. But, Madhav said, they were sad that the government failed to discharge its responsibilities and the feeling of discrimination towards Jammu and Ladakh regions continued.
"After three years, today we have come to the conclusion that in the interest of the entire nation of which J&K is inalienable part and in the interest of integrity and sovereignty of the country, keeping in mind the larger interest of the security, in order to bring situation under control, we have decided that is it time the reins of power be handed to the Governor for a spell of Governor's rule. After the situation is restored, we will consider what to do in the future and take the political process forward," he said.
Madhav further said the ceasefire was announced by the Centre with the intention of bringing peace to the state and to give relief to the people of Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. "It was our hope that we will get a good response from terrorists and separatist forces like Hurriyat. We were under no compulsion. It was a goodwill gesture and we did it from a position of strength," he said.
(With Agency inputs)