With PDP President Mehbooba Mufti demanding Confidence Building Measures rather than mere assurances from the central government on the implementation of the Agenda of Alliance, the impasse over the government formation in J&K is likely to linger on for some more time. The hopes of an early resolution of the crisis died down when Mehbooba after meeting Governor N N Vohra in Jammu only hardened her position. Talking to media, she sought concrete concessions from the centre before she could agree to resume the alliance with BJP.
Here are the six possible scenarios that can play out.
1. The likeliest possibility is that after a drawn brinkmanship the two parties will ultimately make peace. Both have nowhere to go but to the people, a fraught prospect for them given their coalition government has fallen way short of the public expectations. Top BJP leadership or the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself will intervene to defuse the crisis with an assurance to Mehbooba about the implementation of the and some face-saving CBM, possibly release of some more development funds to the state.
2. The coalition could very well break if both the parties dig in their heels: PDP insists on political and economic CBMs that strain BJP’s long-standing ideological stance on J&K forcing the saffron party to resist the alleged “blackmail”.
3. In the absence of a viable alternative alliance option, both parties will be obliged to contest fresh polls. The outcome will depend on how they spin their bitter falling out and how the people in Kashmir and Jammu interpret it.
4. Apparently the polarization between the two regions will electorally suit the two parties. BJP might say that the Kashmir-centric PDP wasn’t ready to share power with a Hindu nationalist party overwhelmingly elected by the people of Jammu and thus seek more consolidation in its favour. And in Valley PDP will go to town flaunting how Mehbooba had stood up to centre for allegedly trying to mess with the state’s special constitutional status and for denying the state, especial its flood victims, a better deal. This politics is something that invariably plays well with a majority of the people of the state.
PDP could also return to its familiar political rhetoric on the state and seek absolute majority to enable it to pursue the resolution of Kashmir, a promise that might acquire a ring of credibility given Mehbooba’s sacrifice of the chief ministerial chair following her father’s demise.
5. If the people in the two regions take the parties at their face value, there is a possibility of the surge of support in their favour. In such a situation while PDP could hope to garner around forty seats in the state, enabling it to form a government on its own with the support of a few independents, BJP in Jammu is unlikely to better its last performance, reducing it to playing its practiced role of an aggressive nationalist opposition party in the state.
6. Other possibility is that either one or both the parties will lose. PDP has more chances of gaining less. Considering the political dynamics in the Valley, riven as it is by a pronounced separatist dimension, the political mandate could once again end up being largely split between National Conference and PDP, with possibly the PDP still emerging as the largest single party. So, in the end up we might end up with the same ruling arrangement that PDP is seeking to change to its favour.