By Aijaz Ahmad Mir

The coming together of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC) and the Congress was no mere coincidence but a well-thought out plan to checkmate the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had struck a deal with Sajjad Lone of the Peoples Conference to form the next

government in Jammu and Kashmir.

The plan was to break the three parties and win over the dissidents to form a third front that would be headed by Lone and supported by the BJP.

That way, the BJP would have run the government with a remote control and at the same time respected the local sentiments by installing a Muslim as the chief minister in the Muslim-majority state.

But the PDP, NC and Congress clearly outsmarted the BJP and Lone. None of the three parties wanted to form the government in coalition at a time when they are fighting to seize each other’s political space.

The PDP has lost both credibility and support among the people of the state, especially Kashmiris who had voted for Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s party in the 2014 assembly elections.

Sayeed had betrayed the Kashmiris by aligning with the BJP to form a coalition government in 2015, arguing that such a dispensation was the need of the hour. He even called the alliance between the PDP and the BJP as meeting of North Pole and South Pole, which essentially meant that the two ideologically opposite parties were coming together merely to share power.

So, joining hands with the PDP was never an option for Farooq Abdullah or Omar Abdullah. In fact, it would have been suicidal for the NC, which was trying to regain the lost political ground by going all out against the PDP.  

The Congress had already rejected all the overtures from the PDP to form a government, insisting that there was no question of aligning with a party that had enabled the BJP and RSS to establish a foothold in the Kashmir valley.

Sensing that her party is on the verge of a split and that Lone would be foisted on them, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti dialled Omar who promptly agreed to play the ball. The two then took Congress general secretary in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir Ambika Soni into confidence and the plan was drafted.

One thing was clear that none of these parties was keen to form the government. It was also decided that if allowed to form the government, they would seek dissolution of the assembly anytime sooner than later.

Accordingly, Mehbooba staked the claim to form the government in alliance with the NC and the Congress. To counter that and in a bid to create confusion, Lone too did the same.

The rest is history but the big takeaway from the development was that the BJP had fallen into the trap.