Saturday, July 2News That Matters

End of dynasty politics in Jammu & Kashmir

There is a political buzz going around the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir regarding the announcement of elections to form a stable democratic government. After the fall of the unholy PDP-BJP alliance, the erstwhile state remained under Governor’s rule, then President’s rule, and finally, Lieutenant Governor’s rule.
The untimely demise of the then Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed, led to rise in speculations that the PDP may form government with the Congress, or opt for a grand alliance to avoid going through the electoral process again. Those speculations were proved wrong. To remain in power, the PDP formed an alliance with the BJP – which paved the way for BJP to enter and further its agenda in the valley.
Despite the visit of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders to Ms Mufti’s residence at that time, which fuelled hope that these moves might be afoot for weaning the PDP away from the BJP to form an alternative government, the PDP still remained adamant on forming government with the BJP. Politically, the PDP-BJP alliance had been an uneasy one, with the two parties’ traditional stands on many contentious issues at odds.
The dissidents in PDP constantly questioned the rationale behind the alliance that their party had with the BJP. Earlier, these voices were muted, but then following the communal polarisation between Jammu and Kashmir on the issue of beef consumption, these dissidents voiced their reservations openly. A case in point was the statements of Tariq Hameed Karra, the then PDP Member of Parliament from Srinagar, who defeated Dr Farooq Abdullah. Karra’s apprehensions about the alliance had been muted earlier but he vehemently criticized the alliance with the BJP over the beef issue. Another senior leader in PDP, who is credited to be one of the founders of the party, Muzzafar Baig, maintained a stony silence but was unhappy with the leadership.
The role of the National Conference cannot be overlooked either. NC’s rant about restoration of statehood and Article 370 & 35A are sly attempts to project themselves as ‘saviours’ of Kashmiris, who no longer take them seriously, for they have been changing colours like chameleons. The ‘SHOW BOY’ of mainstream politics has never let down his masters and always danced to their tunes. After paving way for dilution of Article 370 during his tenure as CM, he did all the ground work for the abrogation of the last vestige of Article 370. Now beating the chest won’t work anymore. People are the best judges. This place once used to be the hub of tourism and secular brotherhood, but now everything has been gobbled up by dynasty politics. These families of Muftis and Abdullahs became “conflict entrepreneurs”, devouring many a great lives.
People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration was formed for a unified goal. But questions were raised over the seat distribution in the recent DDC elections. The PAGD president, Dr Farooq Abdullah, distributed the seats at his own will. On what merits was the maximum number of seats given to the NC? One wonders if the PAGD was not able to even do equal distribution of seats, what can one expect on bigger issues in the future.
The main motive behind the local body elections was the restructuring of the political structure in Kashmir. But the dynasts were given a free run with these elections, and so the whole purpose of these elections still remains unfulfilled. People need to think out of the box. If anyone here is a politician, he ensures that his son carries on the ‘legacy’. The Abdullahs are undoubtedly the first political dynasty of Jammu and Kashmir, having remained central to the state’s politics for over 80 long years, but there are now new political parties with young faces who are challenging the dynasties of both Abdullahs and the Muftis.
The late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed created an alternative to the NC. The patriarch of NC, late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, buoyed by his consecutive thumping wins in elections, had remarked, “If I give ticket even to a wooden electric pole, it would also get elected.” Times have changed and so the polity of Jammu and Kashmir.
One good example of a revived party is the People’s Conference. Leaders who fell out with dynasty parties after some time came back to their own home. Sajad Lone, a young face who had a vote share of more than 1 lakh votes in the last parliamentary elections, is being seen as a saviour for Jammu and Kashmir, especially by the youngsters. Though beset by many issues, the People’s Conference still shares a bond with the people and unarguably represents the aspirations and sentiments of majority of the valleyites… It believes in empowerment and not impoverishment!

The writer is a Kashmir-based socio-political activist.

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