Is Everything All Right In Kashmir’s Grand Old Party?

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by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR: With the gradual shrink in the political space, Kashmir post-August 5 witnessed a considerable ‘squeezing out’ of main unionist politicians from the political turf of the erstwhile state. Barring few, as most of the detained politicians are out after months of detention, the definitions to define new relationships have started to alter.

An Opinion

On Sunday, May 24, when a write-up of Tanvir Sadiq appeared in a local daily, it started ruffling the feathers inside Kashmir’s oldest political party, National Conference (NC). The internal bickering became public, suggesting “all is not well within the party.”

Tanvir Sadiq

Tanvir, a close aide of NC’s vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah and party’s spokesman in his opinion piece has asked for measures of “reconciliation” without talking about the issue of special status. While talking about the merits of a concept of a community in Kashmir, he has mentioned about Kashmir being resilient.

“People have over time become resilient and it is this resilience that is helping them cope with the lockdown,” Sadiq wrote. Detailing the devastations, losses of life, and businesses, he has argued that this is the time to start reconciliation and reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “As such it’s time for reconciliation & reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. As a starting point for this, let all political prisoners arrested post-August 5 be released before EID, revisit the domicile law & lift all curbs on the internet and telecommunication and let the end of the pandemic and the beginning of the political process be run along parallel lines. Kashmir, its people, and the country need this.”

Reaction

Reacting to his revelations on Twitter, NC’s influential Shia leader, three times legislator from Budgam and chief spokesman, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi objected to such overtures from the party leader. “Revisit” domicile law? Lift curbs on Internet? “LET” political process be run? Is that all what you are looking for in this reconciliation? If I am not reading wrong, you are basically asking for 4G and THEIR ‘PERMISSION’ to let us start the political process? & then all is well?”

In another tweet, he expressed anguish saying, “I am honestly ready to be taken to a prison after what I say. But I would never ask them to “LET” us. When you ask them to “let” us, it will naturally be on their terms.”

Agha Syed Ruhulla

Questioning the intension of his colleague, Mehdi in series of tweets launched a scathing attack.  “This provokes a question in my mind. What is a political process for you? Only an election? If we go with a reason and stand our course, even being detained is a part of political process.  But yes, it depends on your objectives. And sorry, it’s insulting to ask THEM to “let” us,” he wrote.

Affirming that hands and thoughts are not “tied”, he said “They are doing job. Our hands aren’t tied. Our thoughts aren’t tied. If the objective is not only elections, we are only in a political process. Asking them to “let” us start means doing only what they want us to do.”

Terming the detention as a “political message”, Mehdi said “Many of my colleagues are detained under PSA. Others including me are put under house detention. My heart goes out to the and I wish & pray for their immediate release. But, believe me their and our (house) detention is a political message and process itself.”

In His Defence

Without naming anybody, Tanvir reacted in a series of tweets. “For some people It’s easy to comment sitting with your family & occasionally tweet to show how brave you are & question me. I don’t know where all that courage disappeared post-August 5- I don’t need a certificate from anyone,” he wrote in one of the tweets.

In another tweet, he said, “I had the courage of standing for my beliefs & I thought we need to explore the way forward. You will sit and tweet & then do nothing. Different priorities! Bye bye.”

The Apni Party

On March 8, when Apni Party was launched, it was seen that the flock of NC did not flutter. However, as the developments are taking place, Manzoor Ahmad, an old NC loyalist said “the tussle is not good for the party in these difficult times”.

In the launch of Altaf Bukhari led new party, the major dent was done to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Now run by Mehbooba Mufti, the party lost majority of the former ministers and legislators to businessman turned politician Bukhari. The congress had its share of loss.

File photo of Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Justice Hasnian Masoodi with PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

Omar In Delhi?

In between, the tussle among the two young leaders of the party, Omar Abdullah has reportedly flown to Delhi on a “personal visit.” If true, this is the first time Omar has flown out of Kashmir on the very first day the air traffic was restored. He visited Delhi last when he had gone to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his father, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and party MP Hasnain Masoodi. The visit was to seek assurances on Article 370, which after few days was scrapped.

From the last few days, rumours are flowing around that an “advisory committee” to the LG will be formed of the new political forces. Though Syed Altaf Bukhari has termed these reports as “good joke”, pessimists and naysayers say post August 2019, rumours have a better credibility than news!

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