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Theatrics cannot pay dividends in new age Kashmir
10/28/2020 11:50:34 PM
Dr. Simrit Kahlon

The family run so-called mainstream parties of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, mainly the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ruled the state (in turns) for decades on end by propagating euphoric dreams.
The NC spoke incessantly about “autonomy” while the PDP forcefully spoke of “self rule.” Both concepts did not take off since they were unrealistic but, in the bargain, the two families and their stooges enjoyed great power and privilege apart from accumulating extraordinary wealth. There cannot be a bigger example than this of converting selling of dreams into a lucrative business.
The vehicle for the unprecedented power enjoyed by these two political parties and their familial patriarchs was the so-called special status of the state, Article 370 and Article 35A. Removal of these debilitating legislations has definitely upset the bandwagon. Now the situation is such that even a mention of “autonomy and self rule” upsets the people no end since they have realised the fatuous nature of these concepts.
Under these circumstances, the resurrection plan of the marginalised leaders is based on identifying such issues that would garner good publicity and restore upon them some political credibility.
After a bit of hedging and testing of waters, they have homed in on restoration of Article 370 and Article 35A as the best bets for their newly crafted drama.
Being past masters in the art of garnering TRPs for sensationalist media, especially the television segment, the leaders of the two parties have charted out a course of making one shocking and scandalous statement after the other. The obvious objective is to remain in camera limelight all the time.
The leaders of the pack are Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, both past masters in the art of rhetoric with a huge capacity to indulge in theatrics. Farooq Abdullah, accordingly, has attempted “shock and awe” by suggesting that the people of Kashmir would rather be under Chinese rule than either India or Pakistan. This, he observes grandly, is the result of their “not feeling Indian.” After making these absurd statements in an interview he realised that he had overstepped to an unacceptable level so he chose to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while eulogising former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a pathetic attempt to create confusion and engineer a divide within the BJP.
Not to be left behind in theatrics, Mehbooba addressed the press with the state flag poised in front of her and said that she would not contest any future any elections or hold the Tricolour till the State flag was not restored and the constitutional changes enforced on August 5 last year are not rolled back.
Their pathetic attempts to garner media attention have bounced back badly with the entire nation, including Jammu and Kashmir, expressing disgust over their “seditious remarks.” People are revolted by the double speak of the leaders who have enjoyed power and honour within the Indian Nation for their entire lives and are now making such petulant and provocative anti-national statements.
The overwhelming feeling among the masses is that they should have taken up the BJP at the political level and that too within the constitutional structure instead of dishonouring the Nation and its flag in such a brazen manner. By doing so they have exposed their secessionist credentials that many were quite sure of in the first instance.
These leaders are trying to play a victim card and somehow build up the emotions of the people as they used to earlier.
They feel that they can, as before, play the communal card to their advantage.
They are so immersed in their overrated self view that they have failed to feel the pulse of their people. They have failed to understand that there are no takers for restoration of the so-called special status in Kashmir, what to talk of Jammu where there is considerable jubilation at the prospect of getting rid of political dominance by Kashmir that has remained in place since independence through use of underhand means. In Ladakh the Union Territory status has further firmed in by the overwhelming win of the BJP in the recently held and very successful Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council elections.
These leaders are basing their optimism on the possibility of the Congress coming to power in the centre and reversing the political process. Both premises are pipe dreams. The Congress is showing no signs of a political revival nor is it giving any no indication of being in favour of any such reversal of status. Deep down the party is quite pleased with the new dispensation.
The reality in the international domain is that those who count have accepted the change of status of Jammu and Kashmir as a justified and legally correct action by the elected representatives of the people in India and for them the matter is closed.
Under these circumstances, acceptance or otherwise by China holds only sensationalist value for the likes of Farooq Abdullah.
Farooq Abdullah speaks of restoring the honour and dignity of the Kashmiri people. He must note that there is no honour in living under outdated and redundant constitutional legislations that were incorporated in the first place by a sleight of hand and that the people are well aware of this aspect.
Now Abdullah will have to explain as to how China can possibly jump over Ladakh and “Rule Kashmir?” Mehbooba is probably trying to find a way out from fighting the next election since she is pretty certain of the resounding defeat that awaits her.
It is time for these two leaders and those of their ilk to understand that theatrics can no longer pay dividends in the new age Kashmir society. Their political survival now depends upon taking genuine action towards ushering peace and prosperity in their homeland.
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