“Those who say that people opposing Modi should go to Pakistan must remember that if India becomes a communal country, Kashmir would not remain its part,“ said an irate Farooq Abdullah; patron of the ruling National Conference, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and candidate for the Srinagar constituency in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. An immature statement of this nature coming from a man of stature and responsibility like Farooq Abdullah is indeed unfortunate.
The words used by Farooq Abdullah also need to be analysed in detail “If India becomes a communal country “Kashmir” would not remain its part.” This implies that Jammu and Ladakh are free to go their own way and it is only “Kashmir” that he is concerned about. This, coming from a person who has been honoured by the people of Jammu and Ladakh as their Chief Minister several times, sounds particularly repulsive.
It is surprising that the statement has not come to the notice of the election commission despite its clear secessionist connotation. It is now quite evident that Farooq Abdullah is no better than the likes of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and that he has a secessionist mindset that has been hidden behind a mask of secularism and nationalism. When faced with the slightest tension in an otherwise roller-coaster political ride he has taken no time to show his true colours.
While letting his tongue loose in the most inappropriate manner Farooq Abdullah has conveniently forgotten the time when he was in political wilderness. Ultimately, he sought help to bounce back from the very same BJP that he is foul-mouthing now. As Chief Minsiter of the State he was a part of the same NDA when it was in power at the centre. His son learnt his political ropes as Minsiter of State in the Ministry of External Affairs of the NDA regime. Narender Modi was very much an important part of the NDA regime at that stage also; in fact, he was deeply involved in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir. Where was Farooq Abdullah’s love for “secularism” at that point in time?
Not much has changed in the BJP or the NDA ever since. Farooq Abdullah has, over the years, applied the principle of opportunism and changed bed-fellows. Now he is frothing in the mouth and slandering the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its possible tie -up with the NDA. Having resided in England for many years and more so when his state was reeling under terrorism he must have heard the idiom “What’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander.”
Now that the mindset of the patron of the National Conference stands exposed it is not very difficult to pin-point the exact fault lines that are causing political instability Kashmir.
It is always said and rightly so that political dissidence and dissent particularly in democratic dispensations is contained by political and not military means. In consideration of this dictum, as soon as terrorism was brought under control in Jammu and Kashmir by unrelenting efforts of the security forces with active support from the people, the likes of Farooq Abdullah who pass off as leaders of the people were entrusted with the responsibility of bringing back political stability to the state. They were made responsible to deliver the fruits of democracy and freedom to the people who had fought so bravely for their rights.
Farooq Abdullah was Chief Minsiter with a clear majority post the election in 1996, immediately after Jammu and Kashmir was deemed to be partially ready for the democratic process; the next government was a PDP-Congress coalition that ruled till 2008; ever since the government is being run by the NC-Congress coalition with the son of Farooq Abdullah at the helm. The state is now going through the Lok Sabha Polls which are a prelude to the next democratic election to be held a few months hence.
Despite this great opportunity and happy situation, leaders like Farooq Abdullah have not been able to earn the complete trust and faith of the people whom they profess to lead. They have failed to generate the confidence that would make the people feel free and secure.
This is quite evident from the low voter turnout in a few regions of the state especially the Kashmir valley. Polling in the valley is low not because people do not wish to vote; it is low because of hesitation on their part due to threats and intimidation by divisive forces. Since these divisive forces do not have much hold in the far flung rural areas the people there, on the assurance of security provided by the local army units, come out in large numbers to vote. In Srinagar and adjoining urban areas there are a few pockets where polling is particularly low which brings down the percentage. Surely, over all these years the Kashmiri leaders could have identified these pockets and nurtured them into the democratic nationalist fold.
Political parties in India have started pursuing tech-savvy population mapping exercises; innovative techniques are being followed to get voters to the polling booth. Who the person votes for cannot be legislated but efforts are made to get maximum people to vote. One has not heard of any such initiative being taken by the mainstream leaders of Kashmir. In fact, boycott calls by divisive elements are more vigorous than the calls for voting.
Coming back to the statement made by Farooq Abdullah – Let us for a minute say that India does become a communal country, then where is the great leader Farooq Abdullah going to take his flock? To “secular” Pakistan or to “secular” China! At this juncture it is necessary to raise the question – Have the mainstream parties of Kashmir stood up to the aspirations of the people? It is for them to introspect, reinvent and revisit their priorities and policies. The honeymoon period is long since over and now is the time to deliver.