After-oath Politics

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Arshid Malik

Arshid Malik

After facing a lot of debilitating diatribe and inertial delay the new government led by Mufti Mohammad Syeed is in place and rolling now faced with challenges ahead which would send the best of its men hurtling for cover. There is the post-flood scenario with people without proper shelter anguished over the paltry amount of money they have received till point in the shape of rehab from the government, which they claim is not even the 100th fraction of what they paid the sweepers and laborers to clean up their places, there is the swine-flu which has claimed a “decent” number of lives till date and is still on the spree, there is the bad-weather which has rendered surface communication a disaster especially in the post-flood scenario and then there is unrest as usual and the Hurriyat Conference or is that taken care of?

Mufti Mohammad Syed dropped it in first go when right after the oath-taking he said, “credit was due to the “people from across the border”, the Hurriyat and militants for “allowing a conducive atmosphere” for elections in Jammu and Kashmir and thereof laying the road for a democratically elected government in Jammu and Kashmir. In the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the “credit for creating a conducive environment for elections in Jammu and Kashmir goes to the Election Commission, our armed forces and the people of the state” while he was apparently scrutinizing the idea under a very “can’t look beyond the nose” approach. The coalition partners were “ambitiously unhappy” over the comment but designed it to be overlooked in the possible and probable best interest of the collated government in Jammu and Kashmir. The media by all means had a field day. Congress was all guns for Mufti Syeed for having said what he had said and they tried their best possible to rake the subject sensing the partial silence of the PDP’s coalition partner it could not help being muted. By all means Syeed’s comments rendered the very existence of the Hurriyat Conference and Co. substantially “powerless and unsubstantial”. Then there was some hullabaloo over the cabinet berth being provided to Sajad Lone who owes his ascent in the political arena to his secessionist antecedents. Lone was eventually inducted into the cabinet. So, was Mufti Mohammad Syeed trying to maintain poise by balancing all elements or was he critically vouching out exclusionists by including them one way or the other into the process of “democracy”. Syeed was politically correct all along. His policy, as I see it is that what I speak of – sidelining the hardliners by putting them in line, which is quite the charisma of a non-defeatist leadership.

In the meantime Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar drove to the defense of the separatist camp saying, “Hurriyat’s entire leadership along with the hundreds of activists and associates were arrested some 45 days before the election drama and they were either jailed or placed under house arrest. Dismissing Syeed’s comments as mere “innuendo” and “political gimmickry” Akbar upped the ante which had very few takers as the rest of the country was busy deciphering the “meaning” of Syeed’s comments. Adding Akbar stated, “The statement of Mufti sahib is same like a person who is held hostage, his hands and feet are tied, his mouth blocked and then he is thanked for his co-operation and silence”. What did Ayaz Akbar imply by the later statement, one wonders. Was he trying to tell the world that words had been put into Mufti Mohammad Syeed’s mouth by a party which hates the very guts of secessionists and for that matter the whole of Kashmir which imperatively is “secessionist” given its timeless temperament or was Akbar trying to implode the exploding comments of the Chief Minister targeted to introduce a chapter of siesta for the separatist camp In Kashmir which to some extent had set in automatically pre-elections.

Now about the relevance of Mufti Mohammad Syeed’s comments vis-à-vis a whole set of people which has already rendered itself non-relevant by keeping out of the common-sphere of social life of Kashmiri people? No struggle can be exclusive in terms of the object it aims to achieve unless the struggle beseeches and thereof integrates the allegiance to the multitude of factors that envelope the daily lives of the population in which the stage for the struggle is set. The Hurriyat Conference chose to harp on the tunes of secessionism while excluding the ordinary life of the common people of Kashmir. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an amalgamation of mainly separatist groups and outfits in Jammu and Kashmir besides some social and religious organizations, was supposed to lead a struggle against all powers of subjugation but it turned towards arm-chair resistance soon after it’s very founding. Ignoring the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, other than that of “freedom” from the subjugators, it left the very essential job of tending to the common masses to democracy and its representatives which is the mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir. By doing so, the Hurriyat while denouncing and sometimes rejecting all allegiance to what it has time and again called the “corrupt democratic institutions, it sought its people to be governed by these very institutions. When we talk about governance we are talking about delivering goods to the ruled and not just military might. We are talking about its ecosystems, its roads and pathways, its villages and cities, its cultural, economic and social structures and thereof tending to all of these. The Hurriyat chose to stay away from all these and like a weak political party sitting in opposition it would mark its resistance by issuing press statements. That is uncalled for and but naturally led to inertia and a lazed outlook and word had to get out. After all the people of Kashmir are not nitwits who just lost and continue to lose lives to “clueless battles”. Mufti Mohammad Syed used this very inertia of the Hurriyat to leaven out rough surfaces. Indirectly he implied that he and his party has come to power and there is little need for “separatism” around. Like a wise political leader he made good use of words and politically sent the message home. This should be a wakeup point for the Hurriyat if it at all ideates to adopt a more participatory and inclusive attitude of resistance rather than arm-chair wisecracking over a subterfuge that Kashmir has been mediated into.

As for the Mufti-led coalition government there is heaps more to be set in order.

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