Kashmir: Our leaders failed to address regional aspirations honestly

Views from Srinagar

Prof. M. Y. Ganai

BEING a humble student of political history, I believe the federal system of India demands that the leader of a regional party should be very brilliant, witty and wise as he has to maintain a balance in the relationship of the region and the union. Within the broader framework of loyalty he has to address the regional aspirations as well. In case of present and the recent past Chandra Babu Naidu, Mamta Banerji and K. Chandra Shaker Rao have with stood such litmus test. In case of Jammu and Kashmir we witness a unilateral process in this regard.
The history of compromise on the regional aspirations of Kashmir dates back to 1953 when the popular government of Shaikh Abdullah was dismissed. The erosion of regional autonomy began with this event and reached to its climax during the times of Mr. Sadiq and Mr. Qasim. The Union Government used these leasers like the East India Company had used Bengal nawabs against the autonomy of Bengal.
Indira-Abdullah Accord of 1974 was the last big compromise on the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. This Accord amounted to the total surrender of Shaikh Abdullah. It attested to all the constitutional erosions that had taken place during the puppet Governments of Bakshi, Sadiq and Qasim (1953-1975). Above all, the biggest disservice that the onetime popular leader of Kashmir did to his innocent people was that he did not make the provisions of this Accord clear to them. Instead, he continued with the traditional rhetoric projecting Jammu and Kashmir as a totally distinct and different State that could do or undo its relationship with the union which speaking practically was not a reality. He did not reveal that such status was also enjoyed by some states of North-East as well and it was basically the legacy of Pandit Nehru’s political thought who believed that with the passage of time such states would merge to the national mainstream.
After the demise of Shaikh Abdullah in 1982 his son Farooq Abdullah – a doctor by profession- took over as the Chief Minister of the State. Without learning any lessons from the dealing between his father and New Delhi since 1947, he unnecessarily adopted a policy of confrontation against the union and as such was shown exit in 1986. It humbled Farooq once for all and later on he opted for total obedience to the commands of the union even at the cost of regional aspirations. He shifted from one extreme to another extreme and as such failed to maintain a balance in State-Centre relations. In his lust for power he also joined the communal forces at the Centre and as such compromised on the secular legacies of N. C. After Farooq Abdullah people of the valley pitched their hope on Umar Abdullah who apparently looks as an upright person. But, the lobby of traditional politicians around him did not allow him to do any commendable work. The infamous scandals like that of Cricket Board and BOPEE surfaced during his Chief-minister-ship and during his tenure most of the honorary positions were put to sale. His tenure represented the worst example of governance deficit.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) a recent born organization is nothing but the product of the misgovernance of National Conference. In 1996 Farooq Abdullah agreed to contest elections and made a big compromise only for the sake of power. At this time Chander Babu Naidu succeeded to get an economic package from New Delhi whereas Farooq Abdullah jumped to chair without asking for any such package in order to rebuild the infrastructure lost during the turmoil. Both Farooq and Umar also failed miserably in making the anti-insurgency agencies accountable. All this facilitated the birth and rise of what we call PDP. During the times of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed this organization did some commendable work especially in ending the atmosphere of fear-psychosis created by the anti-insurgency agencies. This way to some extent it succeeded in providing to what it calls healing touch to the common man.
But, the 2014 elections in which PDP emerged as the largest party in State legislature revealed a different story. The new born entity which is dominated by a particular section of the Muslim society of the valley and is satirically called as peer development party in the countryside stands exposed. It managed to emerge second time on the basis of an exclusively regional agenda like: 1. Returning power projects from NHPC.
2. Addressing the Kashmir imbroglio through tripartite dialogue. 3. Achievement of so called Self-Rule.
4. Above all, safeguarding the secular ethos of the State against communal forces. Speaking practically it has taken a U-turn against its agenda. Like National Conference, for its lust for power, it also compromised on regional aspirations. Again a shift from one extreme to another extreme. Thus, the politics of the new entity proved to be all about power hunger and its regional agenda nothing but a smoke screen.
Both the regional parties have failed to maintain a balance between the regional and national aspirations. Both of them use the mantras of Autonomy and Self-Rule in order to befool the common man. Practically their leaders have not come out of the traditional notion that for enjoying power it is only the good will of the New Delhi which matters and the common man has little or no role and he can be simply fed on the lies. Their leadership compete each other in proving it-self loyal than the king and obliging the union at the cost of the regional interests. The land row of 2008, killings of 2010 and the present plans of Sanik Colony, exclusive Pandit townships, miss-use of State subject provision are nothing but the off shoots of the loyal than the king policy. Since 1953 our leaders proved to be impatient power mongers who failed to strike a balance between the Centre-State relations. No one could address the regional aspirations honestly.

—Courtesy: GK

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