Modi’s party abandons Kashmir alliance

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Modi’s party abandons Kashmir alliance

  • Mufti said that her party would continue to seek dialogue and reconciliation in the state
  • A divide between the partners was visible even last month when New Delhi announced the cease-fire

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quit the ruling coalition in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, blaming its regional partner for a rise in militancy and growing security concerns.
Shortly after the BJP withdrew support from the coalition it formed in early 2015, Mehbooba Mufti, head of its alliance partner the People's Democratic Party (PDP), resigned as the state’s chief minister.
The state will now be ruled by the governor until elections take place.
BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav said on Tuesday that continuing in government had become “untenable.”
“The security scenario has deteriorated causing serious concern about the protection of basic fundamental rights of life and free speech,” he said. “There is grave concern over the deteriorating security situation in the state.”
Kashmir has been at the heart of a dispute between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan over territorial rights. In past months there have been several outbreaks of violence. More than 130 people have been killed in the state this year and at least 120 men have joined extrremist groups.
The BJP move came a day after New Delhi ended a cease-fire against militants for Ramadan.
Last week, extremists shot and killed the editor of a local Kashmiri newspaper and abducted and killed a Kashmiri soldier on his way home to celebrate Eid.
Experts say a political split has been on the cards.
“For the BJP it had become impossible to continue,” said Happymon Jacob, associate professor of disarmament studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “Ideologically, the two are completely different parties.”
By aligning with PDP — viewed by many as a soft separatist party because it supports talks with Pakistan — the BJP lost face with its Hindu right-wing base, he said.
“But the biggest loser is the PDP. Mufti has no face left, no political mileage, and she will have no stakes in Jammu and Kashmir whenever fresh elections take place.”
The BJP, on the other hand, has now strengthened its rule in the state since the governor does what New Delhi tells him, Jacob said. That includes appointing advisers suggested by the BJP to act as de-facto ministers until a new government is formed.
“They are the victors here,” said Jacob.
Mufti said that her party would continue to seek dialogue and reconciliation in the state.
“We had always said muscular security policy will not work in Jammu and Kashmir. The state can’t be treated as enemy territory. Reconciliation is the key,” she told The Indian Express.
The BJP-PDP alliance, the report quoted her saying, was not for power but to get confidence-building measures put in place.
A divide between the partners was visible even last month when New Delhi announced the cease-fire. At the time, BJP’s state unit said the truce would “demoralize security forces.”


Steve Bannon planning foundation to boost far right in Europe: report

France's far-right party Front National (FN) president Marine Le Pen (R) applauds former US President advisor Steve Bannon after his speech during the Front National party annual congress, on March 10, 2018 at the Grand Palais in Lille, northern France. (AFP)
Updated 50 min 55 sec ago
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Steve Bannon planning foundation to boost far right in Europe: report

  • The organization will likely be based out of Brussels initially and has set its sights on the 2019 European parliament elections

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s controversial former adviser Steve Bannon plans to set up a foundation in Europe called “The Movement” to spark a populist rightwing revolt, according to a report.
Bannon envisages the organization rivalling George Soros’ Open Foundation, which has given away $32 billion to liberal causes since it was established in 1984, according to the report by the Daily Beast published late Friday.
The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research.
He told the Daily Beat he was convinced the coming years will see an end to decades of European integration.
“Right-wing populist nationalism is what will happen. That’s what will govern,” he said. “You’re going to have individual nation states with their own identities, their own borders.”
He added he had held talks with right-wing groups across the continent, from Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (recently renamed Rassemblement National) in the West, to Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the Polish populists in the East.
The organization will likely be based out of Brussels initially and has set its sights on the 2019 European parliament elections.
The architect of Trump’s nationalist-populist campaign and his election victory, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was nicknamed the “Prince of Darkness” and the “Shadow President.”
His economic nationalism became the lynchpin of Trump policies, even as many of his other ideas were rebuffed by policy rivals.
After new Chief of Staff John Kelly arrived, Bannon’s constant clashes with other advisers became untenable, as did his ties to the extreme right, which drew accusations that Trump fostered racists. Bannon left the White House last August.