Why PDP and NC are two sides of the same coin in Kashmir

Both parties have mastered doublespeak for political gain.

 |  5-minute read |   06-09-2016
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In the current phase of the Kashmir uprising, the supposedly pro-autonomy National Conference (NC) is trying to play the same dubious role which Mehbooba Mufti played when she was in the opposition - during the 2010 summer uprising - as a supposedly pro-self-rule politician.

In 2010, Mufti played to the gallery. In 2016, Omar Abdullah has replaced her to do the same job.

As a matter of fact, Mufti built her political career by mourning the killings of Kashmir’s armed rebels at the hands of government forces. She would go and meet the families of slain rebels in south Kashmir, embrace their family, kiss them on their foreheads and also shed a tear or two for a good front-page photo - all of this only to garner sympathy for herself, as someone who "cared" for the Kashmiri people and their larger political aspirations.

Her People's Democratic Party (PDP) was building its foundation, brick by brick, on the blood of Kashmiris and promises that it would address the external dimensions of the Kashmir dispute through a process of reconciliation with Pakistan and meaningful engagement with the Hurriyat Conference.

Recently, one senior Kashmiri journalist rightly put it in one of his pieces that "mourning was her (Mehbooba Mufti’s) politics". She used the azadi sentiment to acquire votes. Then, she changed colours to side with the Hindu nationalist BJP to form a coalition government which was referred to as a “marriage of inconvenience” and an “unholy alliance” by many.

Politicians across the ideological divide often indulge in doublespeak for political gain, but Mufti has broken all previous records of hypocrisy. If you watch her previous videos on Youtube, you will understand the point I am trying to make.

During her election campaign in 2014 she once said the people of Kashmir will never sell their "zameer" (conscience) to support the BJP. She vociferously demanded revocation of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, AFSPA, and also criticised government forces for using brute force against civilians. That was 2010.

Also recall how the late Mufti Sayeed, after taking oath as chief minister in March 2015, thanked Pakistan, the armed rebels and the Hurriyat for contributing to peaceful conduct of the 2014 Assembly elections.

Earlier, before the 2002 Assembly elections, the late Mufti had famously said that “militants don’t need guns anymore because their representatives are now in the assembly”.

In 1999, the PDP was formed in the wake of a perceived anti-Kashmir policy adopted by the Farooq Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir. Many see the PDP as a creation of intelligence agencies with an aim to weave a false narrative in Kashmir and to divide Kashmiris between the NC and PDP.

Sometimes I wonder why Indian television anchors are not challenging the PDP for its doublespeak and pretence.

mehbooba-embed_090616052116.jpg PDP's Mehbooba Mufti with National Conference's Omar Abdullah. 

Anyway, it appears that the NC has replaced the PDP to continue with its theatrics in 2016. In 2010, Omar Abdullah was the chief minister when 120 boys, mostly teenagers, were killed in the summer agitation. He neither got the AFSPA repealed nor did he punish the guilty personnel.

If one goes by his recent barrage of tweets on the current uprising it seems the caged Hurriyat leaders need not worry about who will represent them in TV studios, they have an unpaid spokesperson in Abdullah.

Again, I wonder why television anchors are not daring to question the NC’s doublespeak.

There is an interesting background about the NC’s demand for restoration of autonomy or pre-1953 status for Jammu and Kashmir. In my previous article, I explained in detail the circumstances under which the NC passed its resolution in the J&K Legislative Assembly.

While it is a fact that the NC did pass the autonomy resolution in the Legislative Assembly on June 26, 2000, adopting by voice vote, after accepting the report of the State Autonomy Committee (SAC).

According to the contours of NC’s greater autonomy, if accepted, Jammu and Kashmir would have enjoyed pre-1953 constitutional status within the Union of India when India only controlled defence, communications, foreign affairs and currency.

The BJP-led NDA Union Cabinet in New Delhi had summarily rejected the NC’s autonomy resolution. LK Advani, India’s former deputy prime minister, has said on record that accepting the J&K assembly’s autonomy resolution will "set the clock back".

But there is an interesting story about how the NC caved in and buried its autonomy and hankered after power to reduce its demand to mere sloganeering and rhetoric. Autonomy is the NC’s plank, which it often uses to blackmail New Delhi for petty political concessions. Let me address the why part.

Let’s ask, why didn’t NC legislators resign en masse when its autonomy resolution was rejected disdainfully by the NDA? If it were indeed serious about its political demand, why did the party not exhibit guts to take a bold stand?

Advani answers this anxiety for us. In his autobiography My Country My Life, he minces no words while explaining how the NC chewed up its demand. He writes: “This was one occasion when both Atalji and I had to be very firm with the state’s chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, whose National Conference was in fact a part of the ruling NDA at the Centre. We advised him not to press for the implementation of the SAC report.”

When Abdullah was told to "bend", he "crawled". Advani further writes that “Indeed, Atalji told Dr Abdullah to decide whether to continue in the NDA at the Centre following the Union Cabinet’s rejection of the state assembly’s autonomy resolution. To his credit, Dr Abdullah allowed the issue to lapse.” (My Country My Life, Chapter Dealing With The Kashmir Issue, p679.)

Both keep the pot boiling to seek political concessions and aashirvad from Delhi.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Also read: Controversially yours, Mehbooba Mufti

Also read: Are intellectuals supporting Kashmir's cause all Pakistan-sympathisers?


Gowhar Geelani Gowhar Geelani @gowhargeelani

The writer is a journalist, columnist and analyst.

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