In Peripheral Politics, Kashmir Politicians Try Hitting Each Other

by Minhaj Masoodi

SRINAGAR: Coming out of dormancy, the Kashmir landscape seems to be waking up to the politics that is seemingly heating up again in the region. With the Chenab belt becoming the region, from where political activity is picking up and the political parties are having a go at one another, the region has witnessed many a rally and a lot of political posturing and grandstanding.

A file photo former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti with Syed Altaf Bukhari. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Sensing that election could be announced in near future, the parties seem to be gearing up to face what could be a question of survival for many. The two major parties, National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party have been a shadow of themselves and Chenab has presented them with an opportunity to redeem themselves. Congress is grappling with its own issues, with Ghulam Nabi Azad making a statement by drawing huge crowds for his rallies.

Whether politics of old will return, and if not, what turn the politics in the region would take, nobody can tell. However, one thing that has returned is the ‘politics of mudslinging’.

The Meeting of the “Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration” began at PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s Gupkar residence on October 24, 2020.

The region’s key political players have been taking sly digs at each other, even against their own allies.  The parties which had put up a united front against the BJP and the Centre under the People’s Alliance of Gupkar declaration (PAGD) are having a go against each other.

Omar Abdullah while addressing a rally in Doda said that he had offered a chance to Mufti Sayeed to form a coalition government after the 2014 elections to keep BJP from coming to power. Blaming PDP for the August 5 decision, he said that the BJPDP alliance paved way for the eventual reading down of Article 370.

“They took advantage of our weakness. That is why, after the 2014 assembly elections, I had offered Mufti Mohammad Sayeed a hand of friendship. I warned him about the path that he wanted to tread,” Omar was quoted saying. “I offered him unconditional support to form the government and told him not to bring those people to the government who do not have the right intentions for the state. But he had his compulsions. He took a different decision. Lamhun ne khata ki, Sadiyon ne saza paayi.

He insisted: “For that one decision, how long we are going to suffer for, I don’t know.”

Former CMs, Omar Abdullah and Gh Nabi Azad at Fairview residence.

Omar also trained his guns at Ghulam Nabi Azad. Azad had said there was no point in raising the issue of Article 370. He said that they had been raising it in the parliament for two years. “Government has conceded nothing but Statehood. Our demand is the restoration of Statehood and conduct of elections in J&K without any delay,” Azad had said in his speeches in Chenab valley.

However, Omar Abdullah lashed out at him saying Article 370 is the legacy of Congress. “If Congress cannot save its own legacy, how can they save others,” adding “Nehru was behind Article 370”.

But the drama was not restricted to Chenab Valley alone.

In Srinagar, People’s Conference, Sajad Gani Lone who was one of the first to quit from the PAGD, meanwhile, called former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, “a liar.”

“There is a term in Kashmiri called as Tar baaz (liar). Omar sahab is in’sha’allah is going to become the biggest tar baaz (liar) of Kashmir. The latest lie is “Agar hum hotay (had we been in power),” Lone said. “What would he have done?”

Lone while taking a swipe at Abdullah jr said, “We saw what he did during 2010 when you were killing young boys. During that time, the Union home secretary used to decide the timing of curfew relaxations. You had surrendered everything to them.”

He questioned Omar for not resigning from the NDA when they rejected the autonomy resolution.

“You were in alliance with BJP back then. They rejected the resolution. The popular notion was that you’d resign. But you did not. You stuck to power.”

Mehbooba Mufti, PDP leader, whose party underwent a massive change in last two years, last month taking subtle jibes on the emergence of new parties said that the aim of “proxy parties” created by the BJP was to constitutionalize the August 5 decision in the assembly with their help.

She said BJP had embarked on a policy to create divisions among regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir. “First, they attacked PDP and created proxy parties, of which everyone is aware. Then they created divisions in the National Conference and made those leaders defect directly to join BJP.”

She said, there is now a division within Congress as well. “BJP wants to create two groups in the Congress as well.”

THree former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir (L to R): Mehbooba Mufti, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah

Quickly, she got a reaction. Former PDP strongman, treasurer and minister, who now leads the Apni Party, Altaf Bukhari did not take kindly to Mehbooba’s remarks. He retorted back saying that the creation of the People’s Democratic Party was also called a “proxy of the senior BJP leader LK Advani.”

“If it is true that they are a proxy if Advani Ji, only then will I respond,” Bukhari said. He said that he does not usually comment on such issues, adding it had become routine for political opponents to give labels and tags to the newly formed parties. He said that he has great regard for Mehbooba Mufti and said that she should not make such allegations because when their party came into existence, people had referred to PDP with similar names.

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