Kavita Suri

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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Will Mufti be able to reconcile contradictions?

A tight rope walking for the Mufti in his new avatar

By conceding the demand for Chief Ministership to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi not only displayed just political wisdom and maturity but also an understanding of nationalistic needs and necessities. Had it not been Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress would never have let the opportunity go to install a Congress led government. But for Jammu and Kashmir, the situation demanded a difference. The difference of political consensus, among all the players whether in government (at the centre) or in the opposition, given the circumstances prevailing in that state.

Even the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government would not have liked to concede the government to opposition in the backdrop of the fact that one of its constituents, the National Conference (NC) had emerged as a single largest group in the assembly with 29 seats. With so many independents having won, besides some NC dissidents, the NDA could have conveniently managed a National Conference led government in the state. All said and done, the NC government would still be counted as NDA constituent government like those in Andhra Pradesh or Haryana and could have given it some consolation at a time when it is loosing most of the states to the Congress. However, it did not act under political or partisan compulsions, but surely in consonance with the need of the hour. The national interest prevailed over the partisan interest.

It is an open secret that the (PDP) led by Mufti Mohammad Sayed, a former Home Minister, pursued almost the same agenda as that of the All Party Hurriyat Conference with single exception that it did not seek secession or the right to self determination. The demand for scrapping of the  POTA, disbanding the Special Operations Group (SOG) the most effective counter insurgent force in the state, releasing the militants and unconditional dialogue with the secessionists (read Hurriyat leaders) does not sound in any way different from that of the Hurriyat agenda.

The PDP won 16 seats with the whole hearted, yet subtle, support of the Hurriyat. The Hurriyat had its own interest also as it feared the NC and its leader, Dr Farooq Abdullah the most. Dr Abdullah holds decisive influence over the decision making process at the centre. Besides, for all these years, whether in power or out of it, he has always pleaded India’s case strongly at various national and international fora. He has always been uncompromising on the issue of accession. He has always been asserting that the Hurriyat leaders should be entertained for talks only as long as they do not involve Pakistan in the dialogue.

Had the NC returned to power this time, Dr Abdullah would have enjoyed all the moral, legal, constitutional and political legitimacy to deal with the Hurriyat and other separatists. Because this time, nobody could accuse him of coming to power after manipulating the elections, as these were held in most transparent manner in total contrast to 1996. The Hurriyat could no longer describe him as “New Delhi’s representative in Kashmir and not the Kashmiri’s representative in New Delhi”, as former Hurriyat chairman, Moulvi Umar Farooq would say.  He emerged successful, although to a partial extent only. The NC emerged as the single largest group in Kashmir valley securing more seats than others put together. Nobody can write off Dr Abdullah or his NC as far as Kashmir is concerned. Moreover, it is the NC which has suffered the worst at the hands of the militants, with hundreds of its cadres having been gunned down across the valley. In fact it was the Jammu region, which failed the NC this time.

Now that the Mufti assumes the mantle of the Chief Minister in Jammu and Kashmir, there is a growing hope that he may manage to involve the Hurriyat and other secessionists in the dialogue to pave the way for finding out a solution to the problem. One this is sure and certain, he enjoys total support of the Hurriyat Conference and its leadership. Significantly enough, while the negotiations were on between the Congress and the PDP to form the government, the Hurriyat chairman, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat issued a statement saying that they (the Hurriyat) had great expectations from the Mufti, obviously a tacit indication to the political establishment in Delhi that they wanted Mufti to be the CM. And another senior Hurriyat leader, Mr Javed Mir also corroborated Mr Bhat’s statement by welcoming the Congress decision letting the Mufti to become the Chief Minister. These factors weighed heavily in favour of Mufti, while negotiations were going on between his PDP and the Congress. 

The Mufti has a very difficult task ahead. He has to draw a balance between the aspirations of the Hurriyat and other secessionists and the expectations of the people who have supported him directly (the Congress) or indirectly (the NDA government) to become the Chief Minister. Moreover, he has also to confront the reservations within the Congress against his being given the Chief Ministership. Most of the legislators have already not just expressed displeasure and disappointment, but have threatened a rebellion. It would certainly be a tight rope walking for the Mufti in his new avatar as the Chief Minister, his lifelong dream come true at long last after a long and hard bargain. Will he be able to reconcile the contradictions he is riding on, only the time will tell.

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