Monday, November 9, 2015
Dividing the electrorate on communal lines have been the hellmark of Mufti's politics
By; Salman Nizami
PDP's Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has always had a tacit electoral understanding with the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party, although the people of Jammu and Kashmir got a hint of it only now, after the 79-year-old joined hands with the saffron front to become the state's Chief Minister. Those in politics as well as the state's intellectuals and senior scribes were, however, not taken aback. They knew this for a fact for many years that the People's Democratic Party and its ally BJP had always chalked out their election strategies mutually to reap in benefits. They had always been more than eager to help each other to communally divide the Hindu and the Muslim votes, so that while the PDP benefited in Kashmir, BJP won handsomely in Jammu. The stalwarts of the two parties would fly down to New Delhi before every election to prepare the common blueprint behind closed doors. This common blue print would, however, be followed by underlined public posturing to appear as sworn foes and fool the public. Until the two parties succeeded in securing a rock solid majority and it was no longer pertinent to wear masks.
The PDP and BJP had formed a secret understanding way back in 2008 during the times of the infamous Amarnath row. That was a time when the state was being ruled by its very loved and dynamic leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Not only was Azad successful in transforming the hitherto corruption ridden, languishing state into a hub of developmental projects, he had also endeared himself to people across region and religion by his popular poverty alleviation and women's emancipation programmes, which went a long way to stabilise and normalise the lives of people here after over a decade and a half infiltration.
But Azad's popularity became a thorn in the eyes of the PDP, which was at that time, an ally of the Congress. The two parties had come together to form the government in 2002 in which no single party had secured a majority. The understanding was that the chief minister's post would be rotational with Mufti getting the chance to head the state during the first three years. Whereas Mufti's rule was mostly lacklustre, Azad was able to win back the trust of the people once he became the CM on 2 November 2005. By the summer of 2008, Azad had become arguably the state's best chief minister ever and it was being widely predicted that he would be able to secure a simple majority for the Congress on its own when the state went for election in end of 2008.
And then the Amarnath row happened. This was when the PDP decided to backstab it and covertly form an alliance with the BJP. The PDP was afraid of the Congress' might and Azad's popularity and hence it decided to fan communal sentiments of the people together with BJP. The PDP and the BJP decided that whereas the saffron front would take up massive "Bam Bam Bhole" processions in Jammu pressing for the continuation of the land transferred to Amarnath board, the PDP would work in the valley to mobilise the Muslims against it. So that, while on the one hand the BJP would become the most trusted party in Hindu dominated Jammu, the PDP would appear as the messiah of the Muslims in Kashmir. For their own selfish goals, the two parties did not even blink once to strike a near-permanent damage to J&K's long history of communal harmony. But fortunately, the Congress survived the Mufti plot and formed another coalition government with Omar Abdullah's National Conference.
PDP's evil designs were defeated but not exhausted. The party once again revived its old strategy as the state was ready for yet another Assembly election in end of 2014. A time that also witnessed a massive flood, leading to large scale displacement and casualty. The PDP once again had an arrangement with the BJP to delay Central relief, thereby aggravate people's problem, and then blame Omar government for everything. The strategy suited both PDP and BJP as this would give them a chance to corner the incumbent government of NC-Congress and raise their prospects in Kashmir and Jammu, respectively. Having done this, the two resorted to the public posturing of enmity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed Mufti for family rule and pro-Kashmir policies, which he said was costing Hindu dominated Jammu. Mufti, on his part, took on the BJP for its hate politics and for its professed vow to scrap Article 370 which gives a special status to the state. The result was that Hindus flocked towards BJP in Jammu while the Muslims in Kashmir voted the PDP, believing it to be their saviour against the BJP. And the rest was history. Both parties threw away their masks to openly tell the people, "listen we bluffed you", and formed the government together.
Even now, they are continuing with their old strategy. In order to divert attention from the administrative failures of their coalition government, the two parties have come up with beef politics. While Mufti is giving an impression that he is sternly against the ban, BJP legislators recently beat up an independent MLA inside the J&K Assembly because he had allegedly hosted a beef party. The parties are cashing on the beef strategy while the common man is paying for their sin. Two truck drivers were recently set on fire over the rumor that they had consumed bovine meat. How is such hatred going to solve the existing problems of the state. It is only going to compound them. The two drivers are fighting for their lives in AIIMS. Youth are complaining of unemployment. The public is tired of sky-rocketing prices.
But, thankfully there is also a constituency of people who have been able to finally see through the Mufti-BJP plot. They have realised that that for these two parties, power comes first. And in their lust for power, they can push the people of J&K to even drudgery. They have realised that to ensure peace, stability and development, the Congress's secular, inclusive and progressive politics under the leadership of Ghulam Nabi Azad is the only way out. The recent victory of the Congress party in the Kargil election is an important indicator of the same.
um 4:44 AM