Two months after the elections in Jammu and Kashmir elections produced a hung assembly, a coalition of the Peoples Democratic Party and Bhartiya Janata Party was finally sworn in on Sunday.  It took the unlikely allies several weeks to agree on a Common Minimum Programme containing a confluence of their disparate political ideologies to rule the politically disturbed state.

The PDP has built its reputation promising self-rule for the state, while the BJP has consistently demanded the abrogation of Article 370, which grants the territory autonomous status.

According to the shared programme, which has been made public in a document titled “PDP-BJP: The Agenda of Alliance”, the major source of contention between the two allies ‒ Article 370 ‒ will remain unchanged. However, the provision has become irrelevant throughout these years of violence in the region.  For most people, corruption, poor governance, and political uncertainty remain more pressing concerns, as does seeking justice for the excesses of the armed forces.

The parties also agreed to maintain status quo for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives the security forces immunity from prosecution in conflict-hit areas. PDP supporters have frequently criticised the act, but the Common Minimum Programme merely says that the coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying disturbed areas.

Mostly, it is the development part of the agenda that looks positive. There is an attempt to either get back entirely or receive larger portions of revenue from the power projects mainly controlled by the central government.

For 79-year-old Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who is leading the coalition government as chief minister, the major challenge will be to sustain the alliance for six years. In an alliance involving the Hindu nationalist BJP and the soft-separatist PDP, the tables could be turned by even a small issue such as whether a new hospital or university should be located in Hindu-dominated Jammu or Muslim-majority Kashmir.  The strong opposition of the National Conference and the Congress won’t make it easy.

Within a few hours of taking oath, Mufti sparked a controversy by crediting Pakistan and separatist groups for allowing a conducive atmosphere for the elections to be conducted. It took no time for media to seek reactions on this from the BJP, which attempted to downplay the remarks. But the saffron party did mention that the Election Commission and armed forces maintained peace during the elections.

The alliance may not be quite the turning point some are making it out to be. A commentator on a television channel on Sunday evening noted that the day before the new government was sworn in, 20,000 people attended the funeral of a slain militant.