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Mehbooba learns of shock 'from media'

BJP’s minder for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav (right) with the state’s outgoing deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta at a news conference in Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Prem Singh

Srinagar: Outgoing chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday lost her crown and her face as well.

She and her cabinet colleagues from the People's Democratic Party had apparently been clueless about the BJP's plans and were busy with their routine official work when the blow fell.

"We learnt from the media that the BJP has withdrawn support. It was not only a surprise; it was a shock," a PDP insider said.

Rival Omar Abdullah said he wished that it had been Mehbooba who walked out of the alliance.

"She was cutting ribbons while the BJP was cutting her legs out from under her," the National Conference vice-president and former chief minister tweeted.

"How I wish she had left with her head held high and her dignity intact! She was J&K's CM, not of the BJPDP."

Mehbooba has lost her chair at a time she is battling a groundswell of anger in the Valley and Jammu's Muslim-majority districts. She tried to put up a brave face on Tuesday.

"We have always said that any muscular policy will not work here. We can't treat Jammu and Kashmir as enemy territory; it's the territory of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," she said moments after resigning, trying to play the victim and suggest that she was dumped because of her pro-people stand.

Narendra Modi and Mehbooba Mufti at a rally in Jammu on April 2, 2017. (PTI)

"That is why we announced a unilateral ceasefire so that people would heave a sigh of relief.... Unfortunately, the other side wanted the ceasefire to end. But we believe there is no other policy (that will work in Kashmir) other than the PDP's healing touch policy, and talks with Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir or opening routes (with PoK)."

Everybody in Kashmir believed that the alliance, which many called "unholy", would not last the full six years.

But what the grapevine suggested was that that it would be Mehbooba who would divorce the BJP in the hope of re-connecting with the masses ahead of the 2020 Assembly elections.

By withdrawing support, the BJP has not only robbed the PDP of the chance to take the moral high ground but denied it even a straw it could clutch at.

A PDP source admitted it would be difficult for the party to reach out to the people any more.

"On many occasions, we could have moved out of the alliance and taken the moral high ground. (That we didn't) might cost us dear," he said, referring to the deaths that followed Burhan Wani's killing and the recent rape and murder of the Kathua girl.

Mehbooba on Tuesday suggested the party had joined hands with the BJP for the good of the state - for dialogue and reconciliation and not power.

She said her party had defended the special status for the state, ordered amnesty for 11,000 stone-throwers, declared unilateral ceasefire and backed a dialogue with the separatists.

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