India Kashmir: Direct rule imposed after BJP quits alliance

Indian-administered Kashmir has come under direct rule after its chief minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned. Courtesy: BBC

Indian-administered Kashmir has come under direct rule after its chief minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned. 

She quit on Monday after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of a coalition with her People’s Democratic Party.

The BJP said the three-year alliance had become “untenable” in the wake of increasing violence.

The state’s governor will rule until a new coalition is formed or fresh elections are called.

The governor, N N Vohra, will take all key decisions to run the state on behalf of President Ram Nath Kovind.

The BJP said “deteriorating security situation” in the state was one of its reasons to leave the coalition.

It cited the killing of influential Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari last week to make its point. He was gunned down by unidentified men as he was leaving his office in Srinagar.

The PDP rejected its former partner’s allegations.

Ms Mufti told reporters that her party believes in reconciliation while the BJP insisted on following “muscular policies” which cannot bring peace to Kashmir.

“We worked for months to form an understanding with the BJP. We wanted the BJP to start the process of reconciliation in Kashmir and ease tensions with Pakistan,” she added.

Correspondents say the formation of a new alliance will require political realignments.

Forming a government will need the support of 44 of the 89 legislators in the state assembly. The elections in 2015 gave the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) 28 legislators while the BJP won 25.

If the PDP were to ally with the opposition Congress party which has 12 lawmakers, they would also need the support of the state’s three elected independent lawmakers to get the required numbers.

In another scenario, the Congress, the PDP and the main opposition National Conference (NC) could come together to form a government. But the chances of these parties coming together are slim because the PDP and NC have always been at loggerheads in the state.

Kashmir remains a subject of bitter dispute between India and Pakistan, who have fought two out of three wars over it.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in Kashmir, which both countries claim in full.