Kashmir: An Analysis of Politics of Convenience

Views from Srinagar

Sheikh Shabir

OTTO Von Bismarck once said: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.”
This political saying, though said by Bismarck in a particular context, well suits the political atmosphere of our State of Jammu and Kashmir.
National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah, in his typical style, has said something which is a pleasant surprise. He has said: “Our youth are not sacrificing their lives for becoming legislators or ministers but for their rights. This is our land.”
The statement is a pleasant surprise because it has come from a mainstream leader and three time chief Minister of J&K and has come at a time when his party is in opposition and trying to win public public sympathy.
While in office, NC also saw back-to-back mass uprisings in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The uprisings took the driver seat, pushing every other thing to the back seat. Bloodbath became normal. If the then opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned and criticised NC, the ruling NC saw nothing wrong in its rule then.
Now with PDP in office, the opposition NC is watching it’s every move and weakness to name and shame it in public eyes. Why so?
If during NC’s rule, PDP was looking for chances for pushing the ruling party out of office to gain power, can’t we say that NC is giving PDP the dose of its own medicine now? The question can be a food for thought.
Since politics is a game and players need to be alert every time, it is quite clear that NC is ever ready to respond to the policies of the ruling party. NC has done a lot of homework to corner PDP wherever the latter fails.
It must be admitted that NC is a main opposition party in the state and as such it is supposed to play an efficient and effective role in the state politics.
Seen from this angle, Abdullah’s statement is apt and up to the mark. The main message in the statement is against PDP in two ways: one, it is to win over the hearts and minds of the people fighting for their rights. Two, it is to isolate PDP and defeat in all coming elections.
What mainly must have led the Abdullah to make this statement is the upcoming panchayat election in the state and the by-election to Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha seats. In these elections, NC would like to clean bowled PDP. Abdullah has started bowling googleys to make life tough for PDP which is already on a sticky wicket in the wake of 2016 political storm in Kashmir.
NC’s game plan is to take full advantage of the anti-PDP wave in the state, in particular, in the Kashmir valley. From PDP’s point of view, the wave is the result of its own mistakes.
Right from assuming office in 2015 upto now, PDP has been going against the public mood. Its policies do more harm than good. For example, it started with giving a screening test to ReTs. The aim was to please common people who are never happy with teachers for unknown reasons and distract their attention from the real issues. ReTs and their families demanded salaries, PDP led government came up with the test. The policy, being impractical and unrealistic, failed but gave a huge blow to PDP’s image.
Banning beef was another mistake. This policy finally failed only to take people away from PDP. J&K is a Muslim majority state. Eating beef is in its cultural ethos. Sensible political leadership will guard the culture of its people whether it is rain or shine.
Even at present, PDP is not going in the right direction. It believes that emotionally charged words and managing impression among people through media are enough to strengthen its voter base. However, the truth is that people are turning against it with every passing minute.
Poor health care, unemployment, rampant corruption and favouritism have broken the back of people. However, PDP seems to be least concerned for this social menace.
Fifty thousand SSA teachers are without salaries from six months; their Dearness Allowance arrears of 2014 and 15 are yet unpaid. Tax law is applied to them but funds to pay their outstanding wages are neither released nor is anything done to save these teachers and their families from miseries. Frustration, depression and helplessness have affected these teachers and their families to the core.
It seems that PDP is waiting for its term to end. Fatigue and helplessness have perhaps overtaken it. The party appears to be living on another planet. Or it is overconfident to easily get re-elected in a succession. That is why it does not reach out to people to solve their real issues and problems of daily life.
Coming back to the Abdullah’s statement, it is in place to note that only politicians speak freely in the state. People can’t speak so freely. If people say something against India, they are labelled as Pakistanis and if they say something against Pakistan, they are labelled as Indians. Both are dangerous labels in Kashmir circumstances.
What politicians say is listened to understood and either condemned or appreciated freely or freely dismissed as a politician’s statement.
What common people say is not freely understood, but the speaker is freely labelled as Pakistani or Indian, a certain danger to his/ her life.
A few days back, I found some people arguing angrily because one of them had praised a Pakistani cricketer while another had not agreed and instead had praised an Indian cricketer.
—Courtesy: RK.[[email protected]]
[Writer is Srinagar based columnist/journalist].

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