By K.N. Pandita
Two weeks have gone by and political parties in J&K still grapple with the formation of new government. They find it elusive.
PDP, NC and Congress have ganged up to keep BJP, the second largest seat grabber, out of the valley and power. During the election campaign they and most of the loners who are their camp followers now, painted BJP as a Hindu rightist party not acceptable to Muslim majority in the valley who, they claim, are secularist Islamists.
Eighty-five per cent tax payers whose one thousand crore rupees went to the relief of flood victims of the valley via PM’s relief fund, belong to the Hindu community of the Indian Union.
The Muslims in the rest of the country, especially in UP and Bihar, have different perception of BJP from that of valley Muslims. The reason is that while the Muslims in India think for themselves, the Muslims in the valley do not.
As stalemate in the formation of new government continues, the stark brazenness of stakeholders is getting exposed. People ask aren’t their deputies a pack of self-seekers and jokers, to say the least.
Amusingly, only profuse rhetoric is exuded on all sides and almost shamelessly.
Party chiefs, one and all, assert they want a solution that would be in the “best interests of the people.” That is typical Kashmiri sadist expression.
Questions arise. One: who are the “people” they refer to? Two: what are the “best interests” of the people? Three: who will decide the “best interests?”
Let us come to the brass-tacks. For PDP and those of the loners looking for toehold on their bandwagon, the “best interests” are those that bring valley Muslims closer to Pakistan via various cliché like “self rule” or “aazadi” or “Kashmiriyat” or “UN Resolutions” etc. – all a play of camouflaged semantics.
By “people” they mean the Wahhabized camp followers in the valley, and obviously, minus their political rivals and religious, sectarian, ethnic and linguistic minorities.
Ten conditions set forth by PDP for coalition with BJP reflect its mindset.
Of late it has added one more cliché to the list of ten. It wants BJP to go along Atal Bihari Vajpayee line. But what that line is or was or should be, is what PDP deliberately refrains from elucidating. Perhaps PDP is looking for some other meaning in Vajpayee’s epithet of “Insaniyat ke naate” than what he actually meant. And undoubtedly, what was uppermost in Vajpayee mind was the ethnic cleansing of Hindu minority in the valley of “secularist Islamists”.
And when PDP invokes the spirit of Vajpayee, it certainly means that the Indian State should deal with Pakistan’s border shelling or infiltration bids with precisely the same determination and grit with which Vajpayee had reacted to Pakistan’s Kargil perfidy.
PDP wants India to hold talks with Pakistan over Kashmir. Days before his death Nehru sent Sheikh to Pakistan. General Ayub Khan refused to meet Sheikh. PDP chief will not receive a different treatment if at all he heads towards Islamabad someday. The reason is Pakistan’s trust deficit in valley leadership.
PDP demands withdrawal of AFSPA, making borders soft, army to return to barracks etc. This is in the hope of mollifying the militants and separatists. But hasn’t it the responsibility of asking the insurgents to lay down their arms and surrender to the people of the valley? Isn’t that in the “best interests of the people?” Why PDP does not make that demand?
The dilemma of PDP, as well as of some valley-based loners is how to retract from anti-BJP and anti-India stance vehemently adopted during the election campaign.
Congress is in no shape to form the government though it has made the offer on a platter to PDP. None of the political parties of Kashmir trusts Congress. Even traditional Congressmen from Jammu region have understood that Congress is the soft copy of Muslim League. Unlike PDP it does not talk of “people” or of “best interests” because its people are those within the confines of “High Command”, and its “best interests” lie in Hindu bashing. It is licking self inflicted wounds.
Congress’ base as national level political party has eroded; it has recklessly opted to be the anti-BJP Lashkar-e-Congress. Obviously, finding that for at least one decade from now, it has absolutely no chance to walk under the portals of power, the only alternative left to it is to go hand in hand with all such elements as contribute to destabilization of the Indian State in Kashmir. Please note its response to Indian Coast Guards sinking Pakistani boat off Purbandar loaded with explosives.
National Conference has also been trying to invoke the interests of the people but more or less in a subtler manner. However, it has not been able to sell the extra-territorial prognosis with as much deftness as has been done by PDP. Also like a shrew, PDP managed to paint NC in darkest possible colour accusing it in private and in public of Indianizing of Kashmir. NC suffered debacle at the polls for the reason of being too covetous and intransigent in seeking partnership with Congress.
One problem is common to the PDP and the NC or perhaps more to PDP than to NC. Knowing they are unable to change the status quo whether they come to power or not, the question before them is how to face the public in the valley who had been assured of de-Indianization. Having whipped up exclusivist sentiments before and during election campaigns, the stark reality now steers them in their eyeball. Is PDP really serious in putting forward its ten conditions for coalition with BJP or is that for the Wahhabite consumption? Meeting with Ghani Bhat, the Hurriyat soft face, is for bailing it out.
But PDP is faced with opposition both from moderates as well as extremists. BJP understands this and that is why it plays with cards close to the chest.
However, BJP needs to realise that it is bad statesmanship to think of grabbing the reins of power when not only Kashmir region but Ladakh also demonstrated trust deficit. It is travesty that valley leadership dreams of acquiring power through democratic means but indicates trust deficit in a party that has won landslide majority in the parliament and in many states. This is the dichotomy of Kashmir politics and this is the real malaise with which Kashmir politics is beset. Saner elements in Kashmir will understand the consequences of ambivalence in regional or national politics. A people who want to reap the benefits of democratic process are unwilling to accept the verdict of 85 per cent of the people in the country.
Unfortunate as it is, leadership of all hues in the State is spineless and incredulous. Great nations are gifted with great leadership— bold, outspoken and pragmatic, not scurvy and schematic.
The axiom of political sadists that by and large people get the government they deserve may be true but nations have changed the course of their destiny when they had the good fortune of upright and courageous leadership to lead them. Our present leadership in the valley is unable to tell the people what really democracy means and what sacrifices people of the world have made for it in the course of history. We wish they had the strength to wriggle out of slavery and servitude.