Debate within APHC
Despite its longevity, ‘forum’ politics promoted by APHC is bound to lead us nowhere.
PUNCHLINE BY Z.G. MUHAMMAD
Srinagar is quiet. Like kindergarten students political leaders have put fingers on their lips. Some have retreated to their ancestral villages. The political roars have muffled. Many a discourse, both invented and genuine, that engaged academia have evaporated. There is no autonomy talk. There is no ‘self-rule’ drum beating. The four-point formula rhetoric also has died down. The rat race among the press note organizations for finding themselves in print has ended. The vying for issuing statements on incidents amongst the Hurriyat constituents has slowed down.
Is this magic spell of the much trumpeted word “QUIET” that had generated heat in the benumbed Oct-Dec 2009 political scene that has taken wind out of the sails of Kashmiri leaders? I don’t know if some political leaders have become silent for their belief in the adage, ‘sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself’ or for their belief in the Latin proverb, ‘Keep quiet and people will think you a philosopher.’ I don’t know about majority of other parties but I am told that the ‘quiet’ has put the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (M) in a contemplative mood. It has been doing some introspection. It is thinking of shedding words like ‘conglomerate’, ‘umbrella’ ‘multi-party combine and ‘all parties’ suffixed or prefixed with its name. And instead of ‘All Parties’ it wants to prefix ‘Jammu and Kashmir’ with its name. It is debating over naming itself as the Jammu and Kashmir Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference. I am told that lot in the conglomerate are eager to see the party come up like a real political organization with a well defined organizational hierarchy and clear objectives.
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference despite suffering defections and a vertical split is the longest surviving political forum in the state. The idea of founding a state level organization for leading a political movement was born in 1932. Notwithstanding that Muslim Students Federation can be credited for being the first organization that raised its voice against the political, economic and religious discrimination committed against the Muslims of the state during the autocratic rule, the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference with Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah as its President and Chowdary Ghulam Abbass as its General Secretary was the first mass based state level organization. The organization suffered a split in 1938 with Sheikh Abdullah launching the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. Seen in right perspective the contemporary history of the state is woven around the ideologies professed by the two organizations. I see the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front, despite its leaders having their roots in the National Conference more as a manifestation of the Muslim Conference politics than that of the National Conference- it is a different debate that I will not be touching here.
The institution of political organization with all its setbacks struck its roots in the state and many a political party with different ideologies were born. The concept of the multi-party combine or the ‘forum’ leading a political movement in the state was born with the birth of the All Parties Action Committee during the Holy Relic Movement of 1964. But this combine that led the movement for the restoration of the holy relic very successfully, suffered immediate erosion after it adopted resolution for launching an organized struggle for right to self-determination. The organization fragmented and ended up in the birth of another organization, the Jammu and Kashmir Awami Action Committee. In 1975, after Sheikh Abdullah, under an agreement, was elected leader of the State Legislature by the Pradesh Congress Party another effort for launching an All Parties Organization was made. But it failed to come up with most of its constituents either joining the local unit of the Janta Party or supporting it. The second major combine of the political organization was the Muslim United Front (MUF). The Front born in 1986 died its own death after the 1987 elections. Let me reiterate that the APHC born in 1993 with all its inherent ideological contradictions is the longest surviving political forum in the state. How successful, is a matter of debate.
The ‘quiet’ word has mysteriously ‘swirled’ this organization. There is rebellion within, which has set it to debating. The debate is about the seventeen years ‘forum’ politics- achievements and failures. The forum does not have much to its credit- it cannot be credited with having led any movement that would go in history as something big. It initiated dialogues with New Delhi and Islamabad but could not prepare even draft for deliberations. It suffered for its concept of collective leadership even to live steadfastly up to its own political programs. The party decided to boycott the 1996 and 2002 election but for divided opinion on this simple political slogan, it brought one after another cracks within its own ranks.
Now when the voices for one party, one ideology and one goal are becoming shriller and shriller the question arises that can this multiparty combine model itself on the old Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference or the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference so far as organizational set ups are concerned or it resurrects the constitution of the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front from archives to provided an organizational structure to the new dispensation.
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference when looked through its constitution is not only a combine of diverse parties and individuals but also a compendium of compromise. The Constitution of the APHC when compared to many other organizations that have had a part in the political movements of the state suffers from both clarity and ideological fidelity. Not to speak of the major political parties like the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front or the Jammu Kashmir Awami Action Committee (1964), the Jamaat-e-Islamia, Jammu and Kashmir, even the constitutions of the student’s organizations like the Jammu and Kashmir Students and Youth League and the Jammu and Kashmir Youngmen’s League and Student Federation were ideologically clearer than that of the conglomerate. The League constitution had set its objective as: ‘It is a League of students and intellectuals struggling for the basic right, the right of self-determination. The first and foremost aim of the League is to end the uncertainty of the State’s future and secure for five million people of the State, the right to self-determination. We demand a free and impartial Plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.’ (Published in 1964 at Mazdoor Printing Press, Srinagar). The constitution of Jammu and Kashmir Youngmen’s League, Students Federation brought by its President Abdul Rashid Dar (Later Chairman Legislative Council) on 13 July 1969 and Published at New Kashmir Press, in its objective said, ‘The League would take legitimate steps …for achieving the objective of deciding the future of the state through an impartial plebiscite.’
The APHC constitution by all stretch of imagination is not democratic. It is elitist with all powers vested in the Executive. It does not provide any elaborate mechanism for strengthening the inner party democracy. There is no concept of grassroots level in this organization- it does not believe in the concept of basic units as believed by the predecessor party espousing the cause of right to self-determination, the Plebiscite Front. In this organization ‘the basic members constituted the electorate college. The constitution called for setting up of basic committees, the halaqa committee, tehsil committee, district committee, provincial committee and central committee. It was quite elaborate on the creation of these committees. The party constitution provided election of one delegate for one thousand people holding party membership. The elected would become the member of the party general council. The general council members would elect one of the delegates as party president. The president would nominate the members of the central committee. The central committee would get automatically dissolved on the next election. The central committee would consist of minimum fifteen and maximum twenty five members. The constitution provided an organizational set up to the basic level and identified the role from basic committee to the central committee.’
In the hush-hush working of the conglomerate it would be difficult where the inner party debate will lead to but it needs to be understood that the ‘forum’ politics for its inherent contradictions will continue to be an impediment in any way forward- even initiating or joining a dialogue with New Delhi and Islamabad.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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