By K.N. Pandita
Pradesh Congress will have a gala jamboree in Srinagar this week where over 300 Congressmen from top ranks to grassroots level will assemble, ostensibly to discuss how to put an end to factionalism in the party.
Only recently the Congress supremo made a public statement expressing her dissatisfaction with factionalism which, she asserted, has been one of the causes of parity’s debacle in UP polls.
For quite some time murmurs of factionalism were heard but nobody among the Congress stalwarts had the courage to speak the truth for the fear that regality would be offended.
Defence Minister Antony’s report to the Congress supremo has set the ball in motion. It is he who broke the silence albeit, he must have obtained go ahead signal before he submitted the note. That is how democratic Congress’ “autocracy” works.
Nobody among Congress party rank- holders will even think of seeking answer to the questing whether or not divide and rule remains the fundamental code of its political game. History corroborates the assertion.
Congress mega convention in Srinagar is the first of its kind. Not even when Congress was formally inducted into State political chemistry by late leader Ghulam Muhammad Sadiq was a convention of this magnitude held. There must be good reason with the party to think of such a venture and more importantly in a place like Kashmir.
For last six decades, Congress has been projecting itself as the only true secularist-nationalist party, essentially drawing on its past history and tradition. People, still glued to the saga of freedom struggle do not like to demolish the aura of Congress as the liberator of India.
With the passage of time, Congress degenerated in body and mind; it failed to inspire the teeming masses of India that it really worked for the poor even at the expense of some fundamental principles as its desk book formula. Congress leadership shrank to nadir, its nationalism got diluted, its secularism got benignly communalized and self-aggrandizement became the faith of its rank and file. It markedly deviated from its traditional profile and its spokesmen became arrogant to the extent of perversion.
For decades at end Congress championed the cause of Indian Muslim minority asserting that it was being dealt with unfairly and that its safety and security rested only with the Congress. In practice, nothing was far from reality. If after more than five decades of rule of the Congress, Indian Muslims still remain backward and neglected, the onus comes to the doorsteps of the Congress alone to whom the Muslim vote would traditionally go in elections.
But UP election is a landmark in the history of Muslim political jurisprudence in post-independence period. Never before has Congress met with such a humiliating defeat in its very bastion and stronghold. The results gave out a message loud and clear that Congress was not going to be the real face of Indian secularism. Rather it was a mask.
With UP gone to SP, Bihar with Nitish and Delhi Municipal Corporation dominated by BJP, the Congress has been forced to make assessment of its policy and methodology. Thus instead of candidly accepting that its pseudo-secularist tantrum had been exposed, it shifted the object of criticism to factionalism which, it has to be said, is its own creation.
In this background, the only predominately Muslim region that remains to be handled, right or wrong time will prove, is Kashmir. The justification for holding the convention in Kashmir is sought in palpable factionalism with which the PCC was ridden for last two years or ever since Soz was made PCC chief. It was done to cut Azad to size for reasons best known either to Azad or to the highest echelon in the Congress High Command. Since Azad had begun to win popularity for his good developmental schemes and projects during his short tenure as the Chief Minister, his adversaries at various levels succeeded in dumping him. Neither the Congress High Command, nor PDP wanted that he should wear shoes larger than his feet.
Congress wants to consolidate its scattered shreds in Kashmir where there is vast majority of Muslim population. Since it has lost ground in such regions of the country as contain a sizable Muslim population, and does not envisage any breakthrough during the next parliamentary elevations, it is carrying fire and brimstone to Kashmir to neutralize its collapse in UP and other states.
Ostensibly, the Congress High Command has given out that Kashmir Convention will debate factionalism and also elect the PCC chief. This is contradiction in terms and makes the party look much more egregious. On the one hand the aura of elected PCC is created and at the same time not to let the idea be played up vigorously, the selection of Prof. Soz is considered a foregone conclusion. If that is the case, how can Congress stalwarts claim that factionalism will be put an end to.
Congress jamboree in Srinagar is a very dangerous move. It is bound to intensify political alimentation of the people of the valley because the PCC can do nothing but promise a slew of concessions once it comes to power. Whether those will be fulfilled or not or whether those will be compatible with the security and integrity of the Indian state is a different question but promising unrestrained concessions will be a direct challenge to regional parties like NC or PDP. It will spark a game of competition, and a Pakistanized Kashmir will march miles away from broad Indian ethos, thanks to Congress and its convoluted Kashmir politics.
The predictable corollary to the Srinagar jamboree will be the open split in Congress Party. Pro-Congress Muslim leadership in UP, Bihar, Andhra and some other States will look at Srinagar jamboree with deep-seated suspicion because they will be loath to let Muslim leadership of Congress pass on to Kashmir. On State level the split is more inevitable because at present the Congress has majority seats from Jammu and not Kashmir. The jamboree should have been held in Jammu and not Kashmir. Though the Congress leadership in Jammu has never shown its will to assert, yet things cannot be taken for granted. A number of factors outside the close and short circuited interests of Jammu elected Congress leadership are at work. Any combination and permutation can be possible when a party loses balance of perception. That danger is looking straight into the eyeball of Congress leadership.