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Mainstream Weekly, VOL LVI No 15 New Delhi March 31, 2018

PDP at Crossroads

Saturday 31 March 2018

by Javid Ahmad Ahanger and Mudasir Ahmad Qazi

Thomas Jefferson, the founding father of the United States of America, once said: “The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” Jefferson’s prophetic words identified the atrophy of governments when they cross a limit. This becomes relevant in the context of Jammu and Kashmir which is going through a tumultuous phase. There is complete anarchy in the State, although a government exists but lacks legitimacy; in such lawlessness, the care of human life and happiness has become a distant possibility. The present political dispensation, of the PDP-BJP, since its rule, has added to the miseries. The coming together experiment of North Pole and South Pole has made the political environment more confusing and fragile. The PDP-BJP alliance not only proved incapable to rule but miserably failed on all other fronts.

The countless killings, arrests, cordons, search operations and counter-insurgency operations have turned the Valley once again into a concentration camp where annihilation and destruction becomes the order of the day. In such an environment the prospect of a new beginning looks bleak. The coalition government’s Agenda of Alliance turned out to be an Agenda of Destruction. However, most astonishing is the approach of the PDP, which rose to power in the name of the Healing Touch. Its election planks remained ‘Self-rule’, withdrawal AFSPA, release of all political prisoners, resumption of talks with separatists, and crusade against corruption. Its new avatar in power is in complete contradiction with its ideology. Its alliance with the BJP turned out to be a foolhardy adventure and it is now sinking at the confluence of the two rivers, Jhelum and Chenab. The PDP has repeated what the NC did during its rule; hence it is getting ruined. Toeing New Delhi’s line has always been dangerous in the Valley. We have observed how the National Conference lost its electoral mandate once they acted merely as agents of New Delhi. The politics of remaining in the good books of New Delhi has squeezed the space of the NC and now the PDP is travelling in the same direction. There is every possibility that a new mainstream alternative may crop up in the form of Engineer Rashid, who like the PDP, is growing on the separatist agenda.

The PDP’s rise to power became possible because of two factors: first, there was a political vacuum in the State; and second, its pseudo-separatism struck the right chord with the people. Mufti Mohammad Syed used every element of separatist politics to build his party. The party used the symbols of green flag and ink pen combination with which the Valley has a deep psychological-emotional attachment. Thus in Mufti Syed’s political calculation, espousing the interests and demands of the Kashmiris was paramount. During his first stint as the Chief Minster Mufti somehow suceeded in espousing the interests of the Kashmiris through the healing touch and luckily he got equal response from New Delhi. However, the PDP’s second stint in power turned out to be a disaster for the Valley. This unholy alliance has given nothing to the people except miseries and killing. While as a coalition partner the BJP is silently carrying out its own political agenda, the PDP is disappearing into oblivion. The party failed to fulfil the political promises, made in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’. Perhaps it would not be wrong to say that the BJP had made all possible efforts to make the PDP a handicapped and broken political entity in Kashmir. But the blame does not lie with the BJP alone; the PDP, which was earlier known for its soft-separatist stance, turned out to be an opportunist quisling. Besides, whatever damage has been done to the State by the previous regimes like that of the NC, the PDP has added fuel to the fire without showing an iota of good governance and respect for human rights.

There is every possibility that if the PDPpersists with its nonsensical approach it will gradually fade away. At present, the PDP is going through the process of a ‘paradoxical sleep’, a recurring state of being asleep, during which dreams occur and nothing else. That’s because of its poor and unaccountable political policies in Kashmir which followed the resignation of parliamentarian Tariq Hamed Karra. The fractures within the party are an open secret now and any upheaval in the party may deal it the death blow. It is evident that the party is in complete dilemma about what to do. Its approach to buy time and wait for the right moment to withdraw from the alliance is more dangerous since things will not ease out in the Valley in the near future largely because the instability in the Valley suits the BJP nationally.

Political scientist Harold Laswell defines politics as ”Who Gets What, When, and How”. The President of the PDP and incumbent CM would have redefined Laswell’s definition when she shouted: “PDP can’t form a government just for the sake of power but, if it does, it will be, as envisioned by Mufti Sahab, with the objective of addressing the core political and economic issues confronting J&K as was done by the PDP-led government between 2002 and 2005.” However, there seems to beno progress on the Agenda of the Alliance with the BJP. When there is no follow-up on the agreed programme, what is the rationale of continuing with the alliance? This unexpected behaviour of the party reflects its thirst for power, not Mufti Syed’s dream or vision.

It is too late now for Mehbooba Mufti to review her position and work on the unfulfilled promises which she made to the people. A noted political and social scientist, Chris Gibson, asserted that: “The idea that two political parties can’t come together to get a mission done is foreign to me and unacceptable.” The same is true of the present coalition government. The time is not far away when the party (PDP) will meet the same fate which the NC met when it sought a mandate from the alienated and disappointed population in 2014.

The authors are Research Scholars, Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University.

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