Politics over Afzal Guru
Wheels of ruthlessness moving fast
IMPRESSIONS BY UDAY SHANKER
A nation called India is in a perennial struggle against itself. It is confronted with problem of its own making. The successive governments in Delhi have relished conflicts. They always sought to extend their own narrow political agendas at the cost of peace and harmony in the nation. This phenomenon has been more pronounced since 1977 when Indira Gandhi’s Congress was thrown out of power and a conglomerate of several groups, including Jana Sangh ( now BJP) came to power and dismissed nine state governments, dissolved their assemblies and ordered fresh elections. That was a political conflict. But what was ignored was the fact that such political frictions could have serious consequences, and those had. The results of these policies of frictions are there for everyone to see.
It is needless to revisit the history as to how the conflicts in Assam and Punjab or for that matter in Kashmir were born. The roots lay in the political opportunism and a determined bid to undermine the rivals. In the case of Punjab, it was Congress’ attempt to downsize Akali Dal . And in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orrisa, where Naxals have hogged the headlines due to their brutal kind of extremism, making no distinction between civilians and the men in uniform, the problem is that of a never-ending game of one-upmanship played by the political groups . This is a replay of what happened during the days of Mandir-Mandal controversy which was played by Bhartiya Janta Party and Vishwa Nath Partap Singh to undo each other, and in the process the two parties created such a frenzy in the Indian polity that the nation witnessed suicides over the Mandal, many innocent youth committed suicides.
The Ayodhya temple movement launched by BJP led to the demolition of Babri mosque and thereafter a chain of events followed and left the people and the nation bleeding, there were revenge attacks. India got engulfed in communal riots in Mumbai and there were serial bomb explosions . All that was a political game, which reached its extremes in Gujarat and more than 2,000 Muslims were massacred, some of them burnt alive.
Once again that game is being played out by the political groups in India. They have got into a hysteria over the issue of the hanging of Afzal Guru. There are voices from the extremist groups , like BJP, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad that he be hanged. The man, according to them, committed the heinous crime of plotting a terror assault on the Indian Parliament. They cite the Supreme Court verdict that Afzal Guru should be hanged. He was first convicted and sentenced by Delhi High Court in 2002 and thereafter the case moved through several stages before the Supreme Court sought to seal his fate.
Delhi Government has decided not to oppose his death sentence. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is trying to play a politics with her own government. If she strongly feels that there would be law and order repercussions, much in the same fashion, as did the Ayodhya movement of BJP, then she should say it clearly that Afzal Guru should not be hanged. Let her speak in straightforward terms that’s exactly what she is not doing. She is straddling the double path- trying to please sentiments based on the politics. She doesn’t want to annoy the Hindutuva forces, apparently at work within her own government.
At the same time, she is trying to be seen as a champion of Muslims, who form a large chunk of voters in Delhi and has sought refuge in the clichés of repercussions on the law and order situation. It is not a Hindu versus Muslim issue. Afzal’s issue is very straight. Either he is innocent or guilty. And if Sheila Dikshit has any doubts then she must express those in clear terms. She is a politician. She is expected to take a stand even if it runs against the mass currents in her state. That’s what the leadership is. She is suffering a contradiction within her own party.
There are many issues to play politics . The issue of Afzal Guru should be kept out of it. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is also seeking recourse to a worn out phrase ,” let law take its own course.” He is pleading that Afzal Guru’s case should be decided when his turn comes. Good enough. That’s a good use of the words to avoid a direct assertion. As head of government of the state , to which Afzal Guru belongs , he has his own responsibility . If there would be any backlash in any state, it would be in Jammu and Kashmir. This is not a secret . Kashmiri separatists who have their own crisis of credibility are in look out for an issue that can stir an emotions. It’s not the question of what Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Muhammad Yasin Malik are saying. Chief Minister as the elected representative of the people should be able to read the people and their minds. The questions which he should be addressing are : can he afford another wave of protests in the Valley, and if the protests erupt, then who would be at the receiving end. The answer in both the cases is that it is his government that would be suffering, not anyone else. That time he would not be able to blame Delhi because he has not cautioned the Centre about it. And, if he feels that the law should take its course and some how the problem would disappear like that. That’s not going to happen, he should know it. His father Farooq Abdullah was thrown into a vortex of chaos and confusion when the then Jammu and Kashmir Governor B K Nehru sent back the Resettlement Bill passed by the Assembly during Sheikh Abdullah’s time, to the legislature, leaving him with no option but to get the legislation passed again . Neither the bill became a law nor peace was achieved .
In Farooq Abdullah’s case, the Centre played politics when he was hardly a month old in the chair of Chief Minister after Sheikh Abdullah’s death. In Omar Abdullah’s case, it’s happening in 17th month of his government , it matters little whether Congress is a partner in the Government. When his grandfather was made to step down in March 1977, Congress was ruling in alliance with National Conference that time too. The scales of politics are ruthless .
(The author is a political analyst based in New Delhi)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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