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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 31 New Delhi July 21, 2018

Art of Reducing Constitutional Democracy to a Joke

Saturday 21 July 2018

ALL THIS AND MUCH MORE IS TO BE LOCATED IN A SINGULAR OBSESSION WITH ELECTORAL POLITICS

by M.A. Sofi

Looking at what has been a long trail of unedifying events having hogged the headlines over the past four years, the single-most motivating factor for these events having come about has been the manner in which electoral politics is being played out, more often than not, by resorting to tactics which are questionable in conception and devious in intent. The list of such unsavoury developments is endless: cow vigilantism—and the accompanying mayhem involving cases of lynching—Love-Jihad, Ghar Wapsi, Ram Mandir, Triple Talaaq, Jinnah Portrait, appeasement of the Hindu militant fringe through ‘state-managed’ acquittal of those involved in Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express blasts etc. The breaking up of the alliance with the PDP is the latest gimmick as part of this long chain of electoral ‘strategies’!

In regard to this latest piece in the arsenal of its tactics having been employed by the spin doctors of the BJP I, like so many other Kashmir-watchers across the board, was least surprised by the chain of events that had led to the BJP pulling the plug from its alliance with the PDP. However, what baffles me no ends is the realisation that someone of the stature and standing of senior Mufti as a dyed-in-the-wool political heavyweight of the J & K State could not have seen through the mischief, the stratagem, the deviousness and the Chanakyan cunning that are readily on offer while dealing with those schooled in the Sangh Parivar. All the same, one is left to constantly wonder how upon earth he had convinced himself of the BJP doing anything that would even remotely help mitigate the sufferings of the people of the Valley, a presumption he had brought himself to fancy would inform the coming together of the ‘north and south poles’. His naiveté and stupidity compare so favourably with the shenanigans of his ‘grand daddy’ of the Kashmir politics for the latter’s monumental deception and betrayal of his people’s noble cause for a life of freedom, honour and dignity. How he had allowed himself to reckon that if an otherwise suave, educated and a genuinely secular leader of Nehru’s stature had betrayed and played dirty with the tall and towering SMA, he would be treated differently? As it turned out, that was a will-o’-the-wisp that his successor has learnt the hard—and in fact, the most forgettable—way. He should have known better that fancying visions of a successful alliance with a non-secular, fascist outfit like the BJP would be an act of self-immolation.

Whereas part of the reason for this break-up has certainly been the recent developments involving the electoral reverses the BJP had suffered in the recent by-elections in UP, Bihar and Maharashtra following the earlier debacle in Karnataka, the likely impact of these developments on the outcome in the 2019 elections has been the chief motivation for the volte face on its part. In the garb of a ‘democratically elected coalition government’, what has the outgoing government achieved other than to push the J & K State to the precipice by destroying all prospects of peace returning to the State any time soon and increasing the level of violence that has led in its wake to dozens of young Kashmiris joining the militant ranks during these past four years of unprecedented turmoil in the Valley. This, besides the development front, where the less said the better.

However, a likely outcome of the break-up of the unholy alliance would be for the alliance partner from Jammu throwing its weight behind the effort to sabotage the ongoing investigations into the Kathua rape case by manipulating things so as to give the culprits and their masters a clean chit. Something similar is expected being planned in the case of those who had hatched the conspiracy to eliminate Shujaat Bukhari in a recent brutal attack in Srinagar. A tongue-in-cheek comment by some of the Sangh poster boys of the “Ashok Pandit/Sushil Pandit” variety lays it all bare about who these culprits could have been. In a tweet, the former had stated that Shujaat was a “voice of terrorists and azadi”, implying thereby that he could have been killed by none other than those who are out to crush the voices of azadi in Kashmir! And doesn’t he know too well who these guys actually are for whom azadi is a national anathema. If that was not hint enough, hark back to the chilling warning issued by that ex-BJP Minister Lal Singh of the Kathua rape case infamy that if the Kashmir-based journalists transgressed the ‘red line’ while reporting on political developments in the J & K State, they would be meted out the same fate as was reserved for Shujaat Bukhari!

In line with the same ‘strategy’, the twin ploy involving the out of box invention of an ‘assassination plot’ having been hatched against the PM coupled with the coup de’tat which the Sangh had pulled earlier a few days back involving Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Nagpur and which redounds to the evil genius of its spin doctors is part of a game that the Sangh expects to pull off for the BJP at the hustings. That serves to provide yet another vindication of my long held belief that barring an ever-dwindling crop of genuine practitioners/advocates of secularism, a large chunk of Indians come across as Sanghis at heart. If an ex-President of the republic, who could as well have been the Prime Minister of a secular country, reveals himself in his true colours, what would one say about the teeming millions of Indians who are either not sufficiently educated or sophisticated enough to tell a secular polity from one based on religious extremism and hatred. And that surely doesn’t augur well for the country as in that event, they would have no qualms resorting to their time-tested ploy of playing the communal card by creating conditions for a communal cataclysm to devastating effect! An explicit reference to that effect was made in a recent interview by none other than Subramaniam Swamy, the BJP ideologue who has made no secret of their strategy to divide Muslims on sectarian lines between Sunnis, Shias, Bareilwis etc!

I have long since maintained that the brand of politics spawned by the electoral compulsions in the sham called Indian democracy is the source of much of violence and bad blood amongst different sections of the Indian society that has been on the rise, especially since the present dispensation took over more than four years ago. With the BJP finding itself pushed to the wall involving its electoral prospects in the 2019 elections, the only dependable ploy for it to exploit and milk it to the hilt unfortunately happens to be our own Kashmir which it seeks to convert into a killing field where massive security operations are planned to be undertaken with the sole aim of killing Kashmiris in their hundreds and destroying property worth billions, and thus to polarise the society purely on communal lines. Whereas on the one hand, the Resistance as an outcome of the scourge of occupation has been used as a ruse to deprive Kashmiris of the windfall of economic growth whose benefits have been extended to people across vast swathes of India, the same ruse is now being used to reap electoral dividends by subjecting the people here to unspeakable indignity and violence that we have been witnessing here and going through on a day-to-day basis. And this only because there are plenty of takers for this Indian version of the Holocaust across mainland India. What a great curse it indeed is to be reeling under ‘forced occupation’, with no ray of hope in sight for deliverance!

With the chips looking down for the BJP in its fight for survival in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP and in the general elections in 2019, the situation demands of all of us to remain ever so vigilant against the distinct possibility of an apocalypse in the run-up to the elections being contemplated to be unleashed by it as part of its stock-in-trade response when it is in the middle of an existential crisis. This devious campaign is designed to create chaos and mayhem in the country that is meant to take its toll upon certain sections of the society and “to polarise it on communal/sectarian lines like never before. As is to be expected, these dirty tricks are going to be played out mainly in the ‘free for all’ theatre of violence—the Kashmir Valley which has always been used as a favourite hunting ground in pursuit of their narrow and wicked political agenda. And in this act, both the victims and the perpetrators would be predetermined in a way that would lead to a massive backlash across mainland India with an eye on consolidating the majority vote, while making sure to apportion the blame squarely on Kashmiri militants and their supporters in the Valley.

The main take-away from what has been conveyed in the previous paragraphs is that the Sangh model of ’division of labour’ has truly scuppered and backfired as has been seen in all these turf wars during the recent electoral battles with their opponents in mainland India. Let them understand that the policy of minority bashing punctuated by brutal acts of violence including lynching by the party riff-raff and supported by the small-time politicians and Ministers, with the blabber of “vikas, sab ka sath etc” and all that nonsense thrown in by the man at the top has lost its steam. The fact remains that the price for remaining intransigent while relying on strong-arm tactics and resorting to unrestricted use of fire power is already too heavy to deliver in the long run.

However, as opposed to these tactics which flow from the politics of hate and divisiveness, a natural and a far more desirable option would be for more inclusive strategies to be evolved to win the hearts and minds of the people and to engage with those who are being looked upon as the ‘other’, a bête noire, if you like. That alone would be the mantra for genuine vikas and happiness of the people of India. This applies as much to the ground reality in mainland India as it does to the violence-hit J & K State which has been pushed to the abysmal depths of despair and darkness in pursuit of a policy that is born out of bile and paranoid hatred.

The author is a Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics, Kashmir University, Srinagar. He can be contacted at e-mail: aminsofi[at]gmail.com

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