The void in valley’s political amphitheatre is turning more and more suffocating, even failed to pick any tone during and after ULB polls and before the Panchayat elections. The leaders of mainstream political parties, particularly the NC and the PDP, in order to justify their absence from the ground, have often been complaining about the shrinking political space in the valley. They conveniently forget that this situation is creation of their own political follies, which they now use as a handy excuse to remain in the passive stage of political bustle. Fact of the matter is that the shrunken political space has been a beneficial feat and a bonanza for these mainstream parties and they have been using it to their full advantage. More the valley away from the political activities, easier for them to glide through to the corridors of power without the hard ground work otherwise needed to achieve political goals.
NC and PDP often complain of the reduced political space but never put forward any honest and serious attempt to address the issue, giving credence to the fact that the situation suits best for achievement of their goals. The result is that the political atmosphere in the valley has become obscured permanently and no party seems to be a bit worried to do anything about it. However a critical analysis of the situations tells us that the space has not shrunk, but has been allowed to shrink, or to be more precise, has been conceded and surrendered. Political statements even of delicate nature coming from Raj Bhawan to fill the gaps is not a healthy trend for democracy.
Few days back, former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was seen in New Delhi sharing the stage with some would-be leaders of the Mahagathbandhan that has been proposed and planned to counter BJP in the approaching parliamentary elections. While talking to media he said that meeting leaders like the TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Sharad Pawar was to "save the nation of different religions". Abdullah further said that “Everything can work out. Individuals come together despite different religions. This is about saving the nation.” By nation he meant India, not Kashmir.
One may have to keep one’s fingers crossed about the possibilities and the scope, and viability and success of a Mahagathbandhan of different national and regional political parties uniting at the national level. For Farooq Abdullah, saving the nation does have a priority as he has to pay back something to the nation which has been engaging him and his clan ever since he inherited his political position. But it is most unfortunate on part of the senior Abdullah that he does not feel need of such an initiative in politically devastated Kashmir, which is ill and unlike New Delhi has none to take care of. It is amazing that while for Abdullah it is legitimate for every political party to join hands to ‘save the nation’ he does not feel the same way in Kashmir. For Abdullahs or even PDP it does not seem to be “legitimate” to form such a common platform to fight the progressive aggression of the fascist and communal politics in Jammu & Kashmir. On the contrary they have been busying themselves in abusing each other and inadvertently or consciously conceding space to, even joining hands with anti-Kashmir and villainous parties to settle scores against each other.
Consequently we see them fighting their own people, “killing” them, humiliating them and calling them names and offering supporting shoulders to the forces’ guns to tame them to submission. They devise common minimum programs and agendas of alliance with those who have history of betrayals and deceits. They let themselves bitten again and again by those parties who have been pulling the rug from under their feet more than once. They fail to realize that aligning with any of the national parties will never work except for providing them the top jobs. A turbulent Kashmir is a prized asset in the political arsenal for such national parties. Hence you align together with national parties not for the betterment of the people, but to collaborate with them in crimes against Kashmiris. Playing a gamble once may be acceptable. Repeating the feat is a crime.
Does Farooq Abdullah need to be reminded that his commitment should be more towards the people of the valley whom he has ever used to stay in power? His concern for saving the nation might have been a well-taken statement had he shown some concern for his own people as well. After all, doesn’t charity begin at home? Or does it mean that his position is always guaranteed in the valley or the state even if there is no space for him or any political party? The shrunken space in fact works well for all.
It would be in the fitness of things that the space for the political activities be enlarged when all the mainstream parties say that the solution of Kashmir problem lies in the political engagement. Unfortunately here politics is used only to capture power and not for taking the valley out of the tumult, it has been working for last three decades for them. It is because of this grubby attitude that they feel safe only with a meek surrender before New Delhi and never ever are able to stand on high ground pertaining to the problems of the valley. We don’t see such timid surrender of any state government in India, irrespective of the political party heading it.
Politics is not about the development only. Development is a universal phenomenon and takes place in the central or the governor’s rule as well. In fact it is better in non political rule as the possibilities of corruption and nepotism are reduced considerably. Politics is for solving political problems which come in the way of overall progress and development of the nation. And what place is in more political trouble than Kashmir!
Unfortunately our mainstream parties like National Conference and PDP lack such attitude. They could be the parties that could recreate the political atmosphere in the valley. They are more close to each other in their political thoughts as they are with Congress or BJP with whom can only collaborate and daydream about finding the solution. Alliance with a national party will never ever solve the Kashmir problem. But an alliance of NC and PDP could just do a good job. They could churn out a viable solution and even force it on the centre.
These people must have the desire to come together and associate with each other for the protection of the interests of people of Kashmir. Together they can promote a change in the suffocating atmosphere of the valley and put forward and work for implementing a policy which guarantees at least the revival of democracy and promises to protect the basic rights and freedom of the people of the valley. With each other they can complement their power. With BJP or Congress they are just dividing and diluting it.
Both the parties must realize that the shrinking of political space is not due to lack of opportunities but due to lack of good will and honesty. Who could take away the credit from Farooq Abdullah for putting an end to the infamous Sher-Bakra conflict in Srinagar? Didn’t he collaborate with his staunch political opponent Molvi Farooq for the larger interest of the people of the valley? Didn’t it work? Didn’t it rid the valley of a sickening and humiliating malady? Farooq Abdullah’s presence at the ‘nation saving campaign’ is welcome. But charity begins at home.