Plough, Pen and a Hand

As the election season draws near, ruling NC and opposition PDP are busy in creating chances of coalition with Congress. The election symbols of all the three parties make up an interesting combination. Shah Abbas argues how ‘Hand’ enjoys the choice and influence over ‘Pen’ and ‘Plough’.  

National-Conference-PDP-&-CongressThree incidents occurred recently demonstrating the weight and muscle of the Congress and the grip it has on the National Conference (NC) led coalition government. Two among the three incidents were as the commentators observe, aimed at keeping the “Hand and Plough” arrangement intact on part of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

The state Cabinet in the first week of February, gave nod to the establishment of new administrative units in the state. If population was a parameter, then Kashmir got fewer share of these units as compared to Jammu.

The 2011 census put J&K’s population at 1.25 crore of which 55.03% live in Kashmir, 42.68% in Jammu and 2.31% in Ladakh region.

The new administrative units were created after a “threat” of resignation from Omar Abdullah. He did not want the Cabinet Sub Committee (CSC) to submit the report of its choice, while as the CSC headed by Congress face of Jammu and Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand finally not only did what it liked but also got the same accepted in toto.

Finally, after the much hype and the direct intervention of Congress High Command, Omar Abdullah accepted the CSC report rather “succumbed”. Even Kashmir valley did not get the share it deserved.

The second incident was about the incorporation of 73rd amendment in the J&K Panchayat Raj Act.

It happened on February 8, when the state Cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, approved the extension of provisions of the 73rd constitutional amendment to the state for “empowering” Panchayati raj institutions.

Congress and opposition BJP had been demanding inclusion of 73rd Amendment which as is claimed would give decision-making and financial powers to panchayats. It is said that the incorporation of the 73rd amendment will give panchayats enough autonomy in planning and execution of developmental works and utilisation of funds.

National Conference (NC) was strongly opposing the incorporation of the Central law (73rd amendment) in the State Panchayat Act even during the last summer session of the Legislature. Many NC legislatures had called it as “an act against the article 370”. National Conference foot in mouth Additional General Secretary, Mustafa Kamal had gone even a step ahead by calling it “a conspiracy” and “an erosion of the special status” of Jammu and Kashmir.

But, finally Congress managed to get a cabinet nod in the matter making Omar Abdullah optimistic about his future as he said after the cabinet meeting “The coalition is working strongly”.

Third incident, a different one in nature, was the alleged molestation act of Ex-Health Minister of State, Shabir Khan. The compliant in this regard was registered on February 6, 2014 in Police Station Shahid Gunj, Srinagar.

Even, the Chief Justice of the state rejected the filing of his anticipatory bail application and the Speaker Legislative Assembly formally gave nod to his arrest still then the accused ex-minister remained free for almost a week and Police could not arrest him.

The insiders believe that Khan successfully avoided his arrest for so many days only because of being a Congress man. To many, his ‘hiding’ also was an exhibition of the ‘might’ of Congress. They say that it is obviously surprising that a person of minister’s stature who lives under government security successfully ‘hides’ from the same personnel who are to protect him.

“Many Congress men knew the whereabouts of Khan, but we could ask nobody, even his councilor, who was travelling pillar to post to get bail for his client, is a Congress man,” a police official said.

Congress is successfully demonstrating its supremacy only because it enjoys the status of a kingmaker in Jammu and Kashmir. “Congress is sure that it will come to power, may be with PDP or NC it has to share the power as team B, so it exploits its position to strengthen itself at least in Jammu region,” Shawkat Ahmad, a political Science Scholar, told Kashmir Life. He added, “Both the local parties NC and PDP are fully aware of the powers of Congress, they know that their throne is safe only if Congress is pleased with them, so both easily get exploited by the ‘Hand’.”

National Conference on one hand tries everything to continue the combination of ‘Plough’ and ‘Hand’. The Chief Minister is in fact fully aware of the chemistry that ‘Plough’ can’t plough if the ‘Hand’ does not hold it.

On the other hand PDP also knows that ‘Pen’ needs ‘Hand’ to write. So it tries the whole lot to put ‘Pen’ in the ‘Hand’. It is because, PDP whenever slams the government it seldom names Congress.

And in the given situation the ‘Hand’ enjoys liberty to hold either ‘Plough’ or ‘Pen’ and yes the friendly relations of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, with Rahul Gandhi, is Sonay Pay Suhaga for NC.

But political commentators are of the opinion that nothing is impossible in politics and that too in Jammu and Kashmir. Though both PDP and NC have more than twice openly rejected any coalition with BJP, yet the commentators feel that to draw a ‘Lotus’ is not any big deal for ‘Pen’.

And ‘Plough’ too has nothing to object in Ploughing for ‘Saffron’.

Common political opponents of both NC and PDP allege them as “power hungry” that can go to any extent to get to the throne. “If NC and PDP are serious about Autonomy and Self Rule, can they explain the logic in forming government with Congress without making Congress agree on Autonomy or Self Rule,” Independent lawmaker Er Rashid told Kashmir Life.

Congress on the other hand too needs to remain in power in the ‘sensitive’ state of Jammu and Kashmir that is why the ‘Hand’ remains all time ready to hold either ‘Pen’ or ‘Plough’.

“Congress should explain that if it does not subscribe to Autonomy or Self Rule, what moral right it has to form a coalition with NC or PDD,” Rashid added.

In the given political scenario almost all the commentators are of the same opinion that NC-Congress coalition has no reason to split. It has overcome the most difficult times and there is every possibility that both will carry on their relations except any casualty or political compulsions.

The Chief Minister Omar, in fact also put all the speculations to rest, on February 1, 2014 while saying that NC will remain a part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

“The coalition is strong and working well. We come up to the difficulties and the hurdles and it is possible that we work together despite difficulties,” Omar said in a press conference in the winter capital, Jammu along with his Deputy, Tara Chand.

But the question about the pre-poll alliance still remains unanswered. Omar in the same press conference too made it a point. “When I say that NC will remain a part of UPA, do not confuse it with the pre-poll alliance,” Omar clarified.

The principal opposition party (PDP) and the ruling NC have already announced their candidates for the valley Kashmir. NC has nominated its President Dr Farooq Abdullah to contest from central Kashmir where Tariq Hamid Qarra of PDP will be his rival. Dr Mehboob Beigh and Sharif-ul-Din Shariq will be the NC candidates for South and North Kashmir respectively.

PDP nominated its President Mehbooba Mufti from South while as it is yet to decide about North Kashmir.

Congress has not opened its cards. Sources told Kashmir Life that it is eyeing on the Ladakh region only because according to NC leader Mustafa Kamal, “Congress has no basis in the Kashmir valley.”

Political Commentators are of the view that if there is no pre-poll alliance between the ‘Hand’ and ‘Plough’, the later may have to pay heavily especially in south Kashmir from where Congress has two MLAs. In the North as well Congress has a strong hold in the Uri area which is represented by Taj Mohi-ul-din in the state legislative assembly.

Anyway, the politics of ‘Hand’, ‘Pen’ and ‘Plough’ in J&K makes an interesting debate and in near future everybody will come to know whether ‘Hand’ will hold ‘Pen’ or ‘Plough’.


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