As is often said that politics is art of the possible wherein all kinds of possibilities and probabilities exist for the well versed or a novice to exploit.
The politics of Jammu and Kashmir (read Kashmir) can be any politician’s delight if he or she wished to ride on the bandwagon of such possibilities to build or further political career. No matter at what cost.
This chapter started with Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah once the towering leader of the state, as the prefix before his name reflects, now being looked upon by the same people with disdain, to the petite Ms Hina Bhat, the latest entrant on Kashmir’s political firmament.
No matter what the present status of the Sheikh is and it is irrelevant that the latter failed to get BJP’s nod for a berth in the Upper House after having bravely fought and lost election on the saffron party’s ticket from a Muslim majority area.
The possibilities and probabilities still exist both for tried and tested and freshers such as Ms Bhat. The prevailing political stalemate or at least it seems so publicly, on cobbling a Peoples’ Democratic Party-BJP alliance to form a government, offers new greener pastures to such proponents of the art of politics.
There could be none better than the old warhorse Mufti Muhammad Sayeed who is lording over the situation in the midst of ruins of a fragmented mandate, to be in the driver’s seat. It seemed improbable till the other day a Kashmir-centric party with hardcore agenda showing a tilt towards an extreme right-wing BJP, the political arm of the RSS, in quest of power.
But then who could have imagined someone quitting Congress, though not in very bad position at that time, and joining a new experiment called Jan Morcha headed by V P Singh, to finally become the first Muslim Home Minister of the country.
This is another matter that the experiment was short lived but it brought a paradigm change in the Mufti’s political career.
Normally reticent and circumspect he took everyone, at least those who have been watching him for decades, by surprise through a free-wheeling interview in a national daily that delved into the possibility of a PDP-BJP government in the country’s only Muslim majority state. The Mufti describing a PDP-BJP government as a historic opportunity for India is the best example of political adventurism and an attempt to portray himself as a senior statesman.
The BJP, prior to November-December 2014 Assembly elections, had repeatedly attacked PDP for its extreme posturing before it found virtues in the Mufti and his party and vice-versa.
This is all in quest of power sharing. On the contrary the agenda for him, as the past events have proved, has not been focused with a prime aim to come to power. But gaining power became a natural corollary to his attempts at political adventurism.
The very thought of a PDP-BJP government is scary. But then politics is also the art of turning impossible into possible and still remain unscathed.
The Mufti has the stature and experience to turn a political situation head-on. But the challenge this time around, despite his portrayal of PDP-BJP alliance as an attempt to unite warring Jammu and Kashmir regions and in turn leading to greater integration with the country, is daunting and task uphill.
The BJP is working with a limited goal of, for the first time, forming a government in Jammu and Kashmir as it seems quite unsure of its electoral prospects in future. The Mufti, as is evident from his interview, still seems to be working on a multi-pronged strategy.
Gradually inching towards the octogenarian mark, PDP under him cannot miss this opportunity to be in power. But he has created an impression, and successfully too, that BJP and not his party was desperate to form the government.
In this context, he has offered bait to Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and his close aides in the Sangh Parivar in his portrayal of a historic opportunity to re-write history if the two come together.
Will they or won’t they bite the bait as it could come at a very high price for both the sides?
Whether the alliance comes into being or not, it will be the Mufti and not Modi who will be in a comparatively comfortable situation, unless the government is formed and fails miserably mid-way through which will have serious consequences for both.
The former Home Minister has the knack of choosing his own time and day when it comes to making or breaking a political formation. But then Mr Modi will also not be a push-over.
In case the alliance fails to fructify, he, in all probability, will take a high-moral ground of having sacrificed his personal choices at the altar of Kashmir and its people.
And if the two unnatural allies come together and successfully chart the course with the backing of their respective constituents and a cap on the contentious issues, the entire experiment will still centre-around the Mufti who would then be tempted to attain some historicity out of it.
Much would depend on who winks first and who reigns whom effectively in quest of re-writing history.