Modi, Mehbooba and other matters

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By Sameer Bhat

Modi is the new monarch in Delhi. Apart from trampling over the Congress, which he reduced to a rump party, he has conquered uncharted territory. That he is a narcissist, there is no doubt about. Being inelegant and boorish also comes naturally to Modi but lets not spoil the election-erection of his fanboys. The trident-brandishing street types to the billionaire club and tergiversates — in between — are orgasmic. Let the party rock.

Closer home the indomitable Dr Farooq had to eat humble pie. What fall from grace! Straight from gobar gas ministry to the foothills of Gupkar. Last heard Omar was reading Charles Dickens to papa Abdullah, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”. When a senior National Conference toady came calling at 7 Gupkar (Kashmir’s equivalent of 10 Janpath) last night, Farooq was heard screaming in chaste Kashmiri, “Balay Dafa Karun Yi”. Age of wisdom, it appears, has finally dawned upon us.

So what does PM Modi mean for Kashmir? A very senior bureaucrat from J&K rang me up. Clearly unnerved by the stupefying victory of Modi and the collapse of the Congress-NC apparatus, he sough to make some sense of the onslaught. “He can get the state government dismissed on the slightest pretext. And Jagmohan is still alive,” I teased him. “Jokes apart, do you think he will abrogate Article 370?” the dour civil servant inquired. The article, originally meant to govern Kashmir’s relationship with Delhi, has been completely hollowed out of its significance. It is purely symbolic. “I don’t think he will but it means nothing even if he does.”

Be as it may the results of elections 2014 — boycott and queuing up for voting notwithstanding — appeared like a thunderbolt in Kashmir. The Muftis emerged as king-slayers. The Abdullahs are clearly out of favour but the sword has fallen the heaviest on their flatterers. Segment-wise details of votes show that the PDP stood first in 41 of the 87 assembly seats. Any political party needs just 44 seats to form a government in J&K. Don’t be surprised if we have a slightly tipsy new CM later this year.

Many K-watchers I spoke with say that it is too early to write the NC off. For all this hitting-below-the-belt and journalistic sadomasochism, they would spring back. After all it was the party of the plough before it became Omar’s snow skiing syndicate. Yes they looked indifferent when body bags of school kids piled up in 2010. Yes Dr Farooq lamely resorted to blaming ex-bureaucrats for Afzal’s hanging but hey it is the party of the plough. They will live to see another day. Expect bayaan-baazi, vintage Farooq style in the months ahead.

So when the Times of India news app sent that lyrical notification, ‘Mehbooba defeats Mehboob’, many would have simply smiled. Some would have even called it poetic justice.

(Sameer Bhat is a UAE based Kashmiri journalist.)

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