Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kashmir point man Ram Madhav said on Thursday that his party was making no attempt to work out numbers needed for forming a government in the state, after it withdrew from the coalition with PDP.
“No, not from our side,” Madhav said when asked whether BJP will try to work for a new political formation to avoid midterm elections in the state.
In an exclusive interview with Kashmir’s local newspaper Greater Kashmir, Madhav said his party has numbers in Jammu but “doesn’t have any say” in Kashmir.
“Show me the option (for forming the government). We have severed links with PDP and there is no question of going back. The NC and BJP will not happen because Omar sahib has categorically ruled it out. There will be no attempt from our side…But if NC and PDP think they can come together to form an alliance, who will stop them,” said Madhav.
He arrived here on Wednesday and called on Governor NN Vohra and later met Peoples Conference chairman and former minister Sajad Lone before flying back to New Delhi this afternoon.
His meeting with Lone gave rise to speculations that there was an attempt being made for new political alliance in the state, in which Lone might play a key role.
But Madhav said there was a “need” for Governor’s rule in the state, which has witnessed “severe governance deficit” to achieve the three-pronged strategy: “tackling terror and militancy, giving real experience of governance to people and undertaking massive development”.
“This is our three-pronged strategy and we are very clear that under the governor’s rule it will be achieved,” said Madhav who was one of the main architects of the PDP-BJP coalition.
Asked if Governor rule would last its term of six months and be followed by midterm elections, Madhav, who is party’s national general secretary, said, “We are not in any position to suggest any government formation and if all fails we will have elections after six months.”
Is BJP preparing for midterm elections?
“If that is the only option left then we all have to be ready for that,” said Madhav, while ruling out other options.
ON PULLING OUT OF COALITION
Madhav said his party felt that there was “serious lack of governance” in J&K which had hit development and political activities in Kashmir.
“Terrorism and radicalisation was growing and we felt it is time we allow the government to fall,” said Madhav and added “let people experience real meaning of good governance and have fruits of development under Governor’s rule.”
He said the “perceptional gap” about governance between PDP and BJP was widening for “sometime”.
“Tackling terrorism is one way to govern but we have to also ensure that political activities happen and development takes place. This all wasn’t happening. Because of this perception, though it meant losing government, we thought it was important to walk out of the government in the interest of the people of J&K,” said Madhav.
According to him the decision to bring down the government wasn’t “sudden”. He said the party ministers had on several times taken up with former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti the issues related to deteriorating situation, lack of governance and development, during cabinet meetings.
“But nothing was happening and all these factors led to the decision,” he said.
Madhav said that though government forces faced difficulties on the security front, the Mehbooba-led government had allowed them to operate freely.
But, he said, the governance doesn’t mean only killing militants but also improving political scenario in the state and gaining confidence of people.
“This didn’t happen at all. When the government doesn’t gain confidence of people they are attracted by separatists,” said Madhav.
‘BJP TOO TO BE BLAMED’
Madhav said the BJP worked with PDP for three years hoping they would be able to deliver good system of governance, But, he said, the party was increasingly feeling that it wasn’t able to achieve the objective. “This is not about blaming each other but about our perception that the goals were not achieved,” said Madhav in response to a question that the PDP recently stated that BJP was part of the government and can’t escape the blame.
The BJP leader said during the past three years “corruption has grown” in the state and this issue along with “many other things” could have been handled better.
Although the BJP was part of the government but the party wasn’t in the driving seat, said Madhav.
“It was Mehbooba Mufti and PDP. They were taking a number of decisions not to our liking, like appointing a large number of consultants. Why to appoint consultants when you have efficient officers from civil services like KAS and IAS officers who are doing good job. They engaged consultants at very high salaries. What was the delivery? Look at the situation in the state. We felt, in our and their thinking, mismatch was growing,” said Madhav.
Madhav said New Delhi had taken decision to suspend anti-militancy operation from the position of strength and out of goodwill for people. He said the Government of India had expected some reciprocation, not from militants, but from organisations like Hurriyat, and political parties that should have grabbed the opportunity to reach out to people.
“But there was no activity from political side and no response from separatists and terrorists went on killing spree. Shujaat Bukhari (editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir) was killed in broad day light in a VIP area. It showed that the system was not responding when the government in Delhi was extending the olive branch. The whole system should have grabbed the opportunity but that didn’t happen. They were not doing anything. We felt that we didn’t achieve any objective by suspension of operations,” said Madhav.
He said that though the Government of India appointed a special representative to hold talks with all sections of people in Kashmir, these groups (separatists) refused to meet him. “You don’t talk even when home minister offers talks and then policemen are killed inside police stations when they are not part of any operation. Nobody condemned it. Hurriyat didn’t open their mouths. This shows something was wrong in the system and we couldn’t have operated in such a system,” said Madhav.
ON TALKS OFFER
Stating that New Delhi was ready to engage with all sections of the society, Madhav said the “special representative was still there”.
“No,” he responded when asked if the talks offer was over. “Let them (separatists) come forward.”
After the Union home minister Rajnath Singh offered talks to separatists last month, the latter had asked government of India to clear “ambiguity” over talks and “speak in one language”.
“These are all excuses. The home minister in Srinagar categorically said he is ready for talks. He is the senior minister in the government. They (separatists) are looking for excuses,” Madhav responded to separatists’ remarks on talks offer.
The Hurriyat leadership had also made it clear that Kashmir issue can’t be resolved without taking Pakistan onboard. But Madhav said government of India’s stand on talks was very clear.
“This mindset (of separatists) can no longer work. The government of India knows well how to engage with Pakistan government. The concern for us is people of J&K and the government will do what it has to do on other fronts and make sure the issue is addressed properly. You can’t put all sought of preconditions before you even show willingness to talk. Nobody is saying I am ready to talk but they are imaging many things,” said Madhav.