By K.N. Pandita
Forthcoming assembly election in the State has to be viewed differently from all previous elections. It is being held under the shadow of parliamentary election which decimated Congress. NC, too, got good drubbing in all the three regions.
Like it or not, Indian electorate has rejected dynastic rule. It is not because of any exclusive dislike or vendetta against the scions: it is because of other reasons. Indian electorate is steadily coming of age. Dynastic rule has given rise to coteries and sycophants always trying to make the party a limited company.
The coterie culture provides fertile ground for corruption and the syndrome of secretiveness. It begins to suspect all outsiders and thus is very active in creating network of antagonists around it.
Both NC and Congress are under the looming cloud of dynastic rule and hence likely to be shown the exit door. But the scions must fight to the last as long as they remain divorced from the logic of devolution and sharing of power.
In our State, political activists have drawn optimum mileage from the bugbear of religion. Their religious propensity while asked to do democratic politics drew its strength from illiteracy and ignorance of the masses of people. Though saddled in the seat of power, they carefully and keenly kept the masses leashed not to secular but to politicized religion.
How could democracy and antidote to democracy go hand in hand in the State? Time has come when lines shall have to be drawn and stands made clear.
Both NC and PDP leadership has been demanding that New Delhi talk to Islamabad over a final settlement of Kashmir dispute. What does this mean?
They know that Pakistan has the single point agenda, viz., grabbing Kashmir. What the Kashmir leadership indirectly wants to say is that New Delhi should devise mechanism that meets the covetousness of Pakistan.
Kashmir leadership has not endorsed the view of PM Modi that no talks can be held under the shadow of the gun. It hung its face when the PM called off talks.
While Kashmir leadership is vociferous in demanding resumption of talks, why does it not launch a forceful campaign against wielding of gun by Kashmir militants wanting to solve Kashmir tangle through the use of brute force.
Obviously, Kashmir leadership does not want the gun to be laid down; doe snot want armed insurgency to be called off; does not want to help create atmosphere of peace in the region but go on insisting on talking to a non-responsive Pakistan, withdrawing of AFSPA, vacating military camps, resettling returnee militants and so forth and so on.
Why do they do so? The reason is simple. They want to create an impression among the masses of people in Kashmir that they are admirers and supporters of Kashmiri exclusiveness and hence reinforce their voting constituency.
This has been their patent policy ever since the rise of militancy in 1990. They have thrived on blackmail.
But the situation is changing to considerable extent. Two things have immensely contributed to a change of mindset. One is the rising crescendo of Theo-fascism in Pakistan that has consumed nearly a lakh of innocent people. There are no signs of its abating. No Kashmiri is certain about Pakistan’s future.
Secondly, the uprooting of a century old Congress party from political landscape in India and its replacement by a party that has been painted all these six decades as anti-Muslim is a stupefying paradox for Kashmiri Muslims. Rejection of Congress by 95 per cent of Muslim voters in the State of UP which has nearly 32 pr cent of Muslim population, has forced Muslim electorate in the State to re-assess their perception.
But the two mainstream political parties in Kashmir and their affiliates find themselves in extremely discomforting paradox.
What they need to focus on is the situation developing in Pakistan. They are silent on Pakistan trying to revive Kashmir issue in the UN General Assembly. They are silent on Pakistani Rangers unfolding their aggressive designs against civilian population on borders. They are silent about terror modules unearthed and smashed at different places in the valley. They are silent about the Al-Zawahiri’s (of Al Qaeda) open threat of sending his operatives to Kashmir to bring about secession of Kashmir and creation of the Islamic Caliphate and they are silent about LeT’s open threat to target India in Kashmir. Oblivious of these ground realities, the Kashmir leadership wants India to talk to Pakistan. It never suggested Pakistan to uproot terrorist camps on her soil.
Who does not understand that this is sheer blackmailing. Indian authorities are used to the Kashmir blackmail and that is why they attach it little rather no significance.
People in contemporary age are not much interested in the history of their political parties that are approaching them for votes. They judge the party men by their performance and honesty of purpose. Having developed that faculty, the electorate has developed the freedom of thought and action. We cannot predict who will win and with what margin but we can say with fair amount of certainty that old order has to change. People want a change and change for something better.
Kashmir political leadership remains divided. There is nothing unusual in that. But in blackmailing India, they seem to be in unison. In fact they are blackmailing the Kashmiris who now understand what a naivety they nourished all these sixty –four years of independence.
There are growing indications of resentment and revolt within the rank and file of these parties. That process has begun with Congress. It will trickle down to regional parties also. More pragmatic elements in these parties ask for a disjoint from the culture evolved during the heyday of power. PM Modi is indirectly hinting at social revolution through peace and least disorder.
Regional political leadership in the State needs to think deeply and dispassionately on the ground situation. Power has to be shared, and sharing cannot be on the basis of blackmailing one or the other. If some leaders think India is really hateful, let them pronounce the verdict and also explain the consequences for the knowledge of the people at large.