How different is your tryst with the electoral politics from the MUF?


by Irfan Iqbal

Dear Dr Shah,

I don’t want to judge the reasons of your decision of resigning from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) nor do I want to be biased towards your foray into mainstream electoral politics.

I just want to share a few thoughts that, I am sure, may have crossed many minds since the announcement of your resignation from the IAS. From what I have seen and heard of you, mainly through your activities on social media platforms, I won’t hesitate in acknowledging that I have deep respect for what you have achieved and deeper respect for the courage that you have exhibited throughout in being vocal about subjects that you feel strongly about.

Having said that I do, however, find a very subtle shift in your narrative over the years. While addressing a youth convocation back in 2010, when you were the most celebrated Indian youth icon, you referred to India as ‘our country’ and quite recently, you’ve started addressing India as ‘mainland India’. Is it a subtle nothing or a manifestation of something significant, only time will tell. As I said, I won’t judge you. Not at least now.

I do agree with your stance on the necessity of a political space where ‘well intended’ people can deliver to fulfill the larger aspirations of the people of Kashmir. However, I am not sure if delivering within this political space is plausible given that the country in question is not willing to provide this political space, let alone its willingness to acknowledge Kashmir as a political issue. It is a no brainer that if you were to represent Kashmir on ‘mainland’ Indian political forums and institutions, you would have to associate yourself with a mainstream political ideology in Kashmir, more-so because you don’t yet have a voter base which eliminates the option of you contesting independently. Not at least now.

Either one of the two (now almost three) political ideologies in Kashmir are predominantly political agents and their cruel absurdities like the concepts of self-rule and autonomy are gut-wrenching fallacies which discredit their intentions of resolving Kashmir. Under such circumstances, how likely is it for you to play within that ‘political space’ when most of the time, you would be entangled in ensuring that your actions don’t hurt the larger political aspirations of your political affiliates.

From what history has taught us, resolving Kashmir is certainly not at the core of their larger political agendas, even though, the resolution of Kashmir issue does find an occasional mention within their electoral manifestos – just a mention. Also, truth be told, is resolving Kashmir within the ambit and reach of their political prerogative?

Irfan Iqbal

How different is your tryst with the electoral politics from MUF’s decision to participate in the 1987 elections?  I believe they wanted to experiment within the realms of the same political space to address the genuine concerns of the people of J&K. What happened and what followed are facts not concealed from anyone. I find it worth mentioning that an elected representative to the Assembly of J&K, surprisingly from your hometown, who, somewhat, ‘tries’ to play within the same political space is often meted with a sort of treatment that would discourage anyone from foraying into that brand of politics. Yes, his platform is not as grand as the platform of your political aspirations but a striking similarity does exist between the two from the lens of a political space that you have recently mentioned in your article.

You seem to be a man of ambitions. The series of your transitions from a trained medical doctor to a career administrator and then a student at Harvard, though phenomenal accomplishments, would give a sense of your constant pursuit of growth. And why not!

Is politics an opportunistic step up in this ladder of growth? I won’t judge you. Time will.

Wishing you good luck,


(Author is Qatar based Kashmir banker. Ideas expressed are his own.)

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