In a bid to play the role of opposition while being in government, the ruling NC is witnessing a new phase of leg pulling. While this could neutralize PDP’s role, Tasavur Mushtaq explores the possibilities of the mud-slinging which has triggered a kind of ‘democratization’ in Kashmir’s oldest party still adjusting with a generation shift.
Apparently divided on issues, National Conferences (NC), the oldest player in state politics, seems to play dual role – running the government and opposing it as well. The move is presumed to neutralize the polar ends which otherwise could land it in trouble. As voices from the party in government are making the best news, it is apparently reducing the role that PDP the principal opposition could play. Many think the PDP is shocked over the recent defeat in Council polls and is restricted to the shell.
The recent surprise was NCs Member of Parliament, Ghulam Nabi Rattanpuri. Seemingly perturbed by the recent firing on civilians at Pulwama, his home district, Rattanpuri lashed out at chief minister Omar Abdullah and compared Pulwama with Machhil where three civilians were killed by government forces in a staged encounter.
“Chief Minister, in his first public meeting in Pulwama, chose to discuss not Pulwama but Machhil and asked us to be thankful for having black topped roads while Machhil had none,” the broadcaster turned politician said in a statement. “Machhil was comparable to Leh 50 years ago. While Leh according to some has turned into London, Pulwama is asked to be thankful for not having turned into Machhil as yet,” he said.
Rattanpuri was harsh with the police. Accusing it of brutalizing the Pulwama youth and using excessive force, he termed them ‘tormentors and criminals’, and held them responsible for instigating the innocent and gullible young boys to violence as ‘police assets’. “The tormentors-criminals who instigate the innocent and gullible young boys to violence face no action as they are reported to be ‘police assets’, while the tormented boys face persecution,” he said.
What was different in Rattanpuri’s salvo was his incisive attack that punctured his government’s development balloon. No decision by district development board was implemented; no construction of circular road; lowest per capita investment in the district and not a single penny being spared for Pulwama under Central Road Fund.
Ever since Rattanpuri was sent to Rajya Sabha, he has been all fire against his party. In 2002 polls, he worked closely with Omar Abdullah, Devinder Singh Rana and Nasir Aslam Wani. He unsuccessfully contested 2008 polls. But something happened somewhere that changed the equation. The broadcaster sees J&K as a police state and has actually moved a privilege motion against SSP Pulwama accusing him of framing the lawmaker. Omar has been defending his policeman accusing the lawmaker of settling personal scores.
When the recent utterances of Rattanpuri shocked everybody in the ruling party, it was Mubarak Gul who reacted. In November 2011, Gull had said “a small time broadcaster could not digest his elevation to Rajya Sabha”. Advising him to “desist from (getting) cheap publicity”, the ‘advisor’ this time said: “You are newcomer in politics and NC reposed faith in you that you will prove to be a real friend of people by your hard work on ground. Don’t make us repent for our decision.” He listed lot of works that were executed in the district.
Rattanpuri was unmoved and made his dissatisfaction public over the data. He went a step ahead, saying: “The comparative study may be too tough for the born big time hero and mature politician, who may never have been a tumbakhnaari nachayya. But people with knowledge of simple arithmetic will be shocked”. His reaction suggested Gul was being used to sign on dotted lines. “If great lineage makes one lick shoes of the powerful, political maturity means waging the tail of well-connected junior and taking snubs, shedding tears and begging for favors is wisdom, then people of my tribe are comfortable as ‘small time idiots’”, Rattanpuri response reads.