A day after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed provoked BJP by releasing hardline separatist Masarat Alam, the saffron party put the J&K chief minister on notice by saying it would not tolerate violations from the common minimum programme (CMP).
In a strongly worded statement which reflected the anger with the ally, BJP said Sayeed had acted on the sly and the action marked a departure from the CMP.
“We are not going to tolerate any such statement or any such decision which is not as per the common minimum programme that we had agreed upon. We have decided to convey our displeasure to our partner so that such things do not happen in future,” state party chief Jugal Kishore Sharma said.
“We were not asked before releasing Masarat Alam. If they had asked us, we would not have given approval from our side on this and even today our consent is not with this decision. Such people should not have been released as they only spit anti-India venom… If you leave such people like this without any conditions, they will always resort to such (separatist) slogans,” Sharma said, emphasizing that adherence to the CMP was a precondition for the coalition’s survival.
The public display of toughness marked the assessment of the party that Sayeed was probably acting out of bad intent and he wanted to use the government to appeal to his own constituency in the Valley regardless of what happens to the BJP or to “coalition dharma”.
Sources said BJP has decided that its tolerance threshold has already been breached and it will not countenance more deviations from the CMP. With the agendas and planks of the two parties being poles apart, the CMP has been focused on issues of governance, sidestepping the many divergences.
Meanwhile, the home ministry has sought a report from the J&K government on circumstances leading to the release of Masarat, the mastermind of the 2010 stone-pelting protests in the Valley that left 112 people dead. Masarat has over 15 cases pending against him.
While the BJP emphasized that this issue was not part of the CMP, PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar said the decision was in line with the CMP which talked about engaging all stakeholders for establishing peace in J&K. “This (Masarat’s release) has to be seen in proper perspective. It is an important part of our CMP to involve all stakeholders in the state and across the Line of Control for reconciliation and peace in the state,” Akhtar told reporters.
“If you want to have a dialogue with all stakeholders, which includes these leaders, you cannot engage them by keeping them in jail without anything substantial against them,” he added. He also expressed confidence that the coalition government would complete its six-year tenure, saying, “We have formed the government based on CMP and it should work for six years.”
PDP leader and minister for science and technology Imran Ansari claimed BJP was with PDP in Masarat’s release. “I don’t think BJP has any apprehensions. They are with us. We have a coalition government. I don’t think it is a genuine thing to make any issue of that. The courts have released him and the home ministry implemented that order,” he said.
This is the third instance since the two parties formed government in the state on March 1 that BJP has been left red-faced by its new-found ally. Sayeed had ruffled saffron feathers on the day of his swearing-in, crediting Pakistan and separatists for successful elections in the state. The BJP-led government at the Centre had to distance itself from the comment in Parliament last week. This was followed by a group of PDP MLAs asking for the return of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s remains.