Mock­ery of Man­date

BJP-PDP shift from MoU for gov­er­nance, Na­tional Con­fer­ence go­ing soft on sep­a­ratists abet­ting ter­ror­ism in val­ley makes no sense when we give a look at their poll man­i­festoes

The Day After - - CONTENT - By DAnFEs

The J&K Chief Min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti has to han­dle one of the tough­est job among her other coun­ter­parts, fire­fight­ing all the while she has been in the sad­dle. Be it the vi­o­lence af­ter the Burhan Wani killing that killed more than a 100 peo­ple and blinded and maimed thou­sands or the Kash­mir flag con­tro­versy the NIT fi­asco, the Hand­wara killings over al­le­ga­tions that a col­lege girl was mo­lested, or the re­cent GST row — she just hasn’t had the time to have a sigh of re­lief. And now she is up against the big­gest chal­lenge of her po­lit­i­cal life. If she loses this one, she risks the chance of her party ei­ther get­ting wiped out or be­com­ing ir­rel­e­vant for a long time.

These days Mufti is try­ing to rally sup­port over Kash­mir’s spe­cial sta­tus that is fac­ing what many here be­lieve is a “ju­di­cial on­slaught on its ex­clu­sive rights.” She has re­al­ized she needs to con­vince BJP - her al­liance part­ner in J&K - and its right wing af­fil­i­ates, more so, if she has to stay afloat as a re­gional satrap.

Mufti is ex­plor­ing ev­ery bit of sup­port to safe­guard Ar­ti­cle 35A that bars non lo­cals from buy­ing prop­erty or get­ting gov­ern­ment jobs in the state. Ar­ti­cle 35A gives the peo­ple of J&K ex­clu­sive rights and priv­i­leges in own­ing prop­erty and in get­ting jobs and schol­ar­ships.

The J&K chief min­is­ter ap­prised Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi of the “danger­ous” con­se­quences the state may face if the ar­ti­cle is writ­ten off. At the end of the meet­ing Me­hbooba claimed PM Modi was sup­port­ive. She is also seek­ing the sup­port of So­nia Gandhi and other op­po­si­tion lead­ers on the del­i­cate is­sue.

Mufti has also met her main po­lit­i­cal ri­val and for­mer chief min­is­ter Dr Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah and state op­po­si­tion lead­ers to

build a con­sen­sus that Ar­ti­cle 35A needs to stay.

Her Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) and Ab­dul­lah’s Na­tional Con­fer­ence (NC) have strode to power ad­vo­cat­ing self rule and greater au­ton­omy for the state. And Ar­ti­cles 35A and 370 lie at the core of their po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy. Both the Kash­mir-cen­tric par­ties have com­mit­ted to do what­ever it takes to en­sure the 35A is pro­tected. Mufti warned Cen­tre that “there will be no one to carry the tri­colour in state if the act was tin­kered with.” Ab­dul­lah said its ab­ro­ga­tion would pro­voke a big­ger ag­i­ta­tion than 2008 Amar­nath un­rest.

The sep­a­ratists, rocked by the re­cent ar­rests by NIA, have not taken Cen­trestage yet ex­cept for call­ing a strike on Sat­ur­day. The Kash­mir traders, Kash­mir cham­ber and trans­porters bod­ies have al­layed fears and held protests.

But it is PDP and NC which will face ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis if 35A is shot down. They know for sure that for com­mon Kash­miris, these are ar­ti­cles of faith on which their fu­ture hinges too. Espe­cially, at a time when space for main­stream is shrink­ing due to the un­abated vi­o­lence fol­low­ing the killing of mil­i­tant com­man­der Burhan Wani.

OP­TIONS BE­FORE ME­HBOOBA

Un­for­tu­nately, Mufti’s op­tions are lim­ited and she re­lies heav­ily on Cen­tre to bail her out from a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion. On ground, she is ex­plor­ing both the le­gal and po­lit­i­cal op­tions.

Her gov­ern­ment has filed a counter af­fi­davit ar­gu­ing sim­i­lar pleas had been re­jected by the apex court pre­vi­ously. Her le­gal team is con­tend­ing and hop­ing the pe­ti­tion filed by the NGO, We the Cit­i­zens, is dis­missed even though Supreme Court has said the is­sue needs be dis­posed off af­ter six weeks. The case is likely to come up for hear­ing in the last week of this month.

Mufti’s wor­ries are only grow­ing as the Cen­tre has re­mained non com­mit­tal on the is­sue and not filed a counter af­fi­davit. In fact, the BJP-led gov­ern­ment feels that it needs to be ex­am­ined whether the spe­cial sta­tus en­shrined by Ar­ti­cle 370 ben­e­fited or hurt Jammu and Kash­mir.

Mean­while, her gov­ern­ment has be­gun pre­par­ing to con­test the case. In the brief counter af­fi­davit that was filed be­fore the apex court, the J&K Law depart­ment will quote two judg­ments: Pu­ran­lal Lakhan­pal Vs Pres­i­dent of In­dia & Oth­ers, (1962) and Sam­pat Prakash v. State of Jammu and Kash­mir and An­other, (1969). Both the Judge­ments en­dorse the state gov­ern­ment’s views on the mat­ter and ben­e­fit all state sub­jects of the state. The Mufti gov­ern­ment has hired con­sti­tu­tional ex­pert Fali Na­ri­man to head the team to con­test the case.

But it’s Naren­dra Modi-led NDA gov­ern­ment’s un­clear stand on the is­sue that is giv­ing her sleep­less nights.

So far, Delhi has de­cided not to file a counter-af­fi­davit in the mat­ter.

By ab­stain­ing from fil­ing a coun­ter­af­fi­davit, Delhi has ap­par­ently toed the line of the pe­ti­tioner, which is a “danger­ous” ap­proach, the op­po­si­tion NC warned, and could lead to an “ir­repara­ble dam­age” to the state’s spe­cial sta­tus.

Po­lit­i­cally too, Mufti’s op­tions are few. She can­not do much ex­cept hope her

AL­IBI MAS­TERS: Union Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh and Jammu and Kash­mir Chief Min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti

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