PDP and BJP: The Star-Crossed Couple of Indian Politics


PDP and BJP: The Star-Crossed Couple of Indian Politics

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Two parties, both alike in assembly seats,
In fair Kashmir, where we lay our scene,
For this is a story of even greater woe,
Than that of Juliet and her Romeo.

Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers might be the gold standard for tragic unions, but the Bard hadn’t yet witnessed the dance of Indian democracy. Politics makes strange bedfellows, but in the landscape of Indian politics, the bed itself is strange. The chance of a political alliance in modern India having a happy ending is as low as the average IQ of a Race 3 fan – just ask Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. The latest union to head for splitsville is the one between the BJP and the PDP. As the Jammu & Kashmir government is dissolved, and the state comes under the Governor’s rule, both parties will be looking at each other as the one that got away.

The relationship between the two parties was doomed from the start. They had more “will they-won’t they” moments than Ross and Rachel on F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Like every great but fraught love story, this one too began against a turbulent background. The year was 2014, the Kashmir elections had concluded in a hung assembly, and Governor’s rule was announced in the state.

Before the elections, the PDP had promised to keep the “saffron brigade” out of the state, so no one could have seen the coalition government with BJP coming. Just like Jane Austen’s Lizzie Bennet and Mr Darcy, the two parties were able to set aside the rocky start to their relationship and their significant differences to come together for what seemed to be a mutually beneficial relationship.

BJP was the wealthy, influential rake from out of town and PDP was the local gal trying to get noticed. Together, their appetite for power made them blind to the advice of their friends. PDP’s peer, the National Conference led by Omar Abdullah, a kind of Mercutio, tried in vain to stop what was clearly a toxic union, but the lovebirds had eyes only for each other. Even when the relationship hit its first snag in January 2016 with the death of PDP CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the self-destructive behaviour continued unabated. After the CM’s death, PDP and BJP were unable to come to terms with how to take the alliance forward.

Once again, Governor’s rule was reintroduced in the state.

Getting back with a former lover is usually a bad idea, but the PDP and BJP didn’t let this roadblock stop them. In April, after four months of Governor’s rule, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti was sworn in as Jammu & Kashmir’s first woman CM. The flame of romance between the two parties looked like it had been rekindled, but would these mercurial lovers last?

As tragedy after tragedy struck, the PDP and BJP continued their infighting instead of tending to their wards.

Bitter spouses rarely make for good parents, and the children of the BJP and PDP union, the people of Kashmir, got a taste of what it’s like to live in a dysfunctional home. Burhan Wani’s killing led to widespread protests that were answered by brutal state crackdown. In this never-ending cycle of violence, civilian lives were lost, and thousands were injured by pellet guns and army vehicles. Over the last two years, even hospitals were not spared and became the target of tear-gas shelling; an unofficial “media gag” came into play. The valley’s social fabric was rend once again, with gruesome incidents like the Kathua gangrape and the recent murder of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari in broad daylight.

As tragedy after tragedy struck, the PDP and BJP continued their infighting instead of tending to their wards.

The two lovers had come together to expand their fortune and watch their star rise, but they weren’t able to see eye to eye on most issues. Just like a newly married couple fighting about everything from what to make for dinner or whose parents are more unbearable, the political spouses began to experience buyer’s remorse. Whether it was the removal of AFSPA, the notion of Kashmiri self-rule, or simply extending the Ramzan ceasefire in the valley, all discussions seemed to turn into arguments. The relationship was clearly on the rocks, but PDP couldn’t see it yet.

The final nail in the coffin was planted when the BJP bailed on the coalition faster than an absentee father presented with a positive pregnancy test. Two days ago, Amit Shah summoned all BJP ministers to Delhi, and yesterday the party announced it was withdrawing from the government. Mehbooba Mufti responded by resigning as CM, and today things have come full circle with… you guessed right, the reintroduction of Governor’s rule.

In the tradition of all tragic protagonists, our two former lovers, the PDP and the BJP, have seen their dreams turn to ash.

Mehbooba Mufti leaves behind a legacy as a CM who compromised her party’s ideals and integrity for a transparent power grab by mixing with an ideological opponent. BJP has lost yet another regional political ally, after acrimonious partings with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and TDP in Andhra Pradesh.

For generations, we’ve heard tales of trysts that were destined for ruin from their inception – Romeo & Juliet, Antony & Cleopatra, Brad Pitt & Jennifer Aniston. Now, PDP and BJP have given us a brand new story to tell. And like every bitter divorce, the brunt of the split will be borne by the children: The Kashmiri people, who are left, once again, without a democratically elected government.