People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti has proved once again that she specialises in making dramatic, rather melodramatic announcements. In her trademark style, she said on Friday that she could hold no other flag (a reference to Tricolour) until ‘our state flag was returned’. For effect and emphasis, she had the red and white state flag, scrapped last year, placed strategically on a table in front of her, along with her party flag. The state flag was hoisted for the first time on June 7, 1952, and it was never meant to rival Tricolour as a perusal of discussions in the Constituent Assembly held that day tell us. However, Mehbooba’s peculiar articulation about the national flag has instantly given her the oxygen of publicity she craved for. Her accusation against the ruling BJP of replacing the Indian Constitution with its party manifesto does not stand close scrutiny. It needs to be said that there is nothing unusual for a party in power to implement as many agenda items in its manifesto as possible. In doing away with Article 35-A and neutering 370, the BJP just did what has always been there in its poll promises.Mehbooba’s assertions about her unflinching commitment to restoration of Article 370, and also resolution of Kashmir problem were clear attempts to stay relevant in J&K politics, particularly Kashmir. She did not have even one word about what new point/s she had, if any, for this resolution though her party’s ‘self-rule’ formula stands rejected already. Her dramatic assertion about her willingness to be first among political leaders to give her blood if the need arose was unadulterated melodrama. However, she was right in admitting that the PDP, Farooq Abdullah, Sajad Lone and such others can’t get 35-A restored under the present Central regime due to its absolute majority in Parliament. It may help her in thinking clearly about the options (or lack of them) she has if she remembers that the BJP will be getting more seats in the Rajya Sabha next month, consolidating its position in power further. With zero presence in the Lok Sabha, and having only two MPs in the Rajya Sabha, PDP is nearly irrelevant in Parliament. Her party MPs had only helped BJP on August 5 last year when they had walked out, instead of voting against scrapping of Article 35-A. Regretting that she had trusted PM Modi once, she claimed her father, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had tied up with BJP in 2014 only to stall its onwards march. Incidentally, the PDP was founded over two decades ago to weaken the National Conference (NC) then headed by Farooq Abdullah. Ironically, Dr Abdullah is one person Mehbooba has accepted as a leader set to lead People’s Alliance after Gupkar Declaration on October 15. In the assembly elections held in 2002, 2008 and 2014, the PDP had scored victory in 16, 21 and 28 segments in 87-member House. It needs to remember that neither of its coalition governments with the Congress (formed in 2002) or with the BJP (formed in 2014), completed its terms. How long can the PDP remain with the NC, its bete noire, is anybody’s guess.
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