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PDP-BJP alliance on edge over Kathua minor’s rape-murder case

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wants BJP leadership to drop from her cabinet two of their ministers who had participated in Hindu Ekta Manch rally

SP Sharma | Jammu |

The three-year-old alliance between the ruling PDP-BJP is on the edge with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asking the BJP leadership to drop from her cabinet two of their ministers who had participated in a rally of the Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM) and supported the demand for a CBI inquiry into the rape-murder of an eight-year-old girl belonging to a nomadic tribe.

Reliable sources said that Mehbooba has asked the BJP high command to take a decision on the issue by Saturday when she has convened a meeting of senior leaders of the PDP to discuss the issue of the minor’s rape and civilians killed during encounters with terrorists in Kashmir. The PDP might discuss its further relations with the BJP in the meeting.

Mehbooba has already, to some extent, lost her political ground in the Valley and she might be trying to retrieve it by placating the hardliners in Kashmir.

The incident of rape-murder of the girl child has got politicised and certain elements have given it a Hindu-Muslim twist thereby enlarging the problems for Mehbooba.

Sources said that during her recent visit to Delhi, Mehbooba conveyed her annoyance to Prime Minister Narendera Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue of the two ministers, Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, supporting the HEM that has rejected the investigations by the crime branch of the J-K Police and sought case’s transfer to the CBI.

Sources said that the BJP might agree to drop Lal Singh who had left the Congress and joined BJP shortly before the Assembly elections, but it would not be an easy task dropping Ganga who is backed by the RSS.

The Kashmir-centric parties have built the narrative that the two ministers were supporting the alleged rapists of the minor girl.

Indication about the relations between PDP and BJP further souring came when Tourism Minister Tassaduq Mufti, who is brother of Mehbooba, told the media in Srinagar on Thursday that the PDP and BJP have “ended up being partners in a crime (for which) an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood”.

This is not his personal view but the overwhelming sentiment within the PDP, he stressed.

He is also reported to have said that the PDP might have to take one last bow and apologise for the alliance with the BJP.  The PDP has become a “partner in crime” with the BJP and the subsequent alienation of Kashmiris has reached a point where it can lead to unprecedented bloodshed, he is reported to have said.

It is worth mentioning that the vice-president of PDP, Sartaj Madni, who is maternal uncle of Mehbooba, has also in the party rallies been expressing anguish over the failure of the Modi government to implement the commitments made in the Agenda of Alliance signed by the PDP and BJP.

However, the PDP has been stressing for implementation of only those points, including initiation of talks with Pakistan, that suited it in Kashmir and remains mum on the issues faced by people in Jammu region.

The BJP leadership has claimed that being elected representatives of the area, the two ministers went to the HEM rally to understand the demand of the agitating people.

The opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah was trying to pin down Mehbooba through his posts on the social media. He tweeted: “When asked why pro-rapist ministers continue to serve in @Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet the PDP spokesperson said ‘that’s a question for PM Modi’. Oh the helplessness of our powerless Chief Minister!,” Omar said.