Political convulsions rock Kashmir politics

Arun Joshi

Political convulsions have yet again rocked politics of the Valley. It is becoming more and more directionless as the premier regional party National Conference that exhibited its traditional political support in the District Development Council polls in December last year by winning 67 seats, next only to BJP’s 75 , is now grappling with the leadership crisis .

These are exceptional times in Kashmir where it has become necessary to have vibrant politics to take it out of multiple crises haunting it day in and day out .But it is not there , and as a result of which the administration has become unaccountable and the people are losing faith in the system, because there exists none.

It was aptly put by Altaf Bukhari , president of the newest political outfit – Jammu Kashmir Apni Party – when he told a presser that “ Prime Minister Narendra Modi should send a team to verify the situation as it exists and not through the computerized graphics that are presented to him by the bureaucrats.”

He said that the Prime Minister should not trust the bureaucratic graphics, as nothing has happened in the past two years – the reference being to the changes effected on August 5 2019. On this particular day, the Centre had scrapped the Article 370 and also divided J&K into two Union Territories. Thereafter BJP has started a narrative that an unprecedented development has taken place in J&K , but the evidence on the ground offers a picture in complete contrast.

While Altaf Bukhari whose nine-month -old party is speaking out about the issues, the other regional parties are silent about these . This is where the Apni Party is seeking to take credit for reviving the politics and offering itself for accountability for what all it is saying and doing.The oldest political party -National Conference – is grappling with the leadership crisis after it became public that party’s vice president Omar Abdullah has developed a sense of doubt about the politics in post August 5 , 2019 , period . Omar has given an impression that there is no way to carry forward his politics nowadays when J&K is a Union Territory , with no or limited scope to do politics . He has implied two things : that the politics in Jammu and Kashmir could be conducted only till the time the erstwhile state had special status, with its separate flag, constitution of its own, and special rights and privileges .Without that shield , he finds himself caught in a quagmire and helpless . Secondly, he has confirmed that he has no stamina left to struggle in politics, though he is 50 only, which is considered relatively young age in politics .

This has upset his father and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah as also the entire cadre of the National Conference because Omar was the second most important position holder in the party’s hierarchy – Vice President. And then being Abdullah was the greatest asset for him. He had ruled J&K as Chief Minister from 2009 to 2015 .

That being the state of affairs of the National Conference, its long-time political rival ,People’s Democratic Party , is trying to rediscover itself. But with some of top party leaders, particularly all those who were confidants of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, under arrest , nothing is going right for the party .The dilemma is , how to reclaim the political space that it lost because of its alliance with the BJP. PDP and BJP had ruled J&K for three years in partnership with each other.

There is a political vacuum , which no one knows how it would be bridged.
The self-doubts have scaled new heights as even three weeks after poll results were declared , the notification for constitution of the DDCs is awaited . Political parties are not asking questions because they believe that the delay in the constitution of the DDCs would delay their accountability as well.

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist and author. Among his books, “Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” was acknowledged as the most authentic work on Kashmir. He can be reached ajoshi57@gmail.com

Views expressed are personal