Srinagar, April 21: The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP has gone all out against ally BJP over some controversial statements made by its leaders, escalating tensions between the partners.
The PDP offensive came as BJP national secretary Ram Madhav held a series of meetings with top Jammu and Kashmir functionaries, betraying the Centre's concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the Valley.
The trigger for hard-hitting statements by PDP leaders was a remark by industries minister, Chander Prakash Ganga of the BJP, calling for shooting pro-Aazadi protesters. "They are traitors. Whether they live in the country or come from Pakistan, they can only be treated with bullets," Ganga had recently said in Jammu.
The comments were followed Madahav's controversial remarks that everything was fair in love and war. He said so as he sought to justify the incident in which a youth was strapped to an army jeep and driven around as a shield against stone-throwers during the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat bypoll on April 9.
"One fails to understand against whom Mr. Madhav has declared war. Is it a war declared against Kashmiris who, despite all odds, cast their votes reaffirming their belief in democracy? Or it is a war declared to satiate the sanguine electoral interests of a particular political party in the country. Let Mr. Madhav be reminded that no civilised society can afford to use its citizens as shields for military operations," said PDP leader and education minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari.
Bukhari also hit out at Ganga over his "shooting" remark and said "bullets cannot win the battle of ideas". "The PDP believes that dialogue is the only way out. Unfortunately, instead of initiating a dialogue as a confidence-building measure to revive a sense of belonging among bruised Kashmiris, some BJP insiders are trying to sabotage the whole peace process started under Mr (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee's regime."
Earlier, PDP vice-president Sartaj Madni had said Ganga's utterances were not only disgusting but perilous as well. "It is unbecoming of a senior minister in the government to dish out such a sweeping, sickening and intimidating statement against Kashmiri youths."
Farooq Abdullah, the president of the Opposition National Conference (NC), said chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's failure to act against the minister "had proved beyond doubt her lack of authority and responsibility towards the state and its people". NC workers had staged protests in Srinagar yesterday against the BJP and burnt Ganga's effigy.
Mehbooba has presided over a fragile alliance where allies PDP and BJP have openly criticised each other on occasions. The fresh war of words has erupted amid indications that the Centre is unhappy with Mehbooba over her handling of the situation in Kashmir, with some calling for governor's rule.
In an apparent snub to the PDP, Madhav today held meetings with governor N.N. Vohra and state police chief S.P. Vaid, discussing law and order. Vaid was summoned to the BJP headquarters. NC leader Nasir Aslam Wani said the fact that senior police officers went to meet Madhav at the BJP office in Jammu "in full uniform and on duty" shows "the brazen disregard and contempt shown by certain individuals in the administration towards the non-negotiable tenets of neutrality and objectivity in a democracy".
Madhav also met the state's finance minister, the PDP's Haseeb Drabu, to iron out differences between the allies. Following this, Ganga issued a statement expressing regret. "If anyone is hurt by my statement, I express regret."