Disingenuous Politics

Sheikh Nazir’s plebiscite talk plays to a wave of public indifference and why?

POINT OF VIEW

RIYAZ AHMAD

Last week, the general secretary of the ruling National Conference Sheikh Nazir decided to remind New Delhi of its promise to hold plebiscite in Kashmir. An egregious demand indeed,  coming from a party that is singularly responsible for finding a place for Kashmir within India. But what is this? It was not this statement which appeared to be shocking but the way the statement was received in Valley and also by the media.  It played to a wave of public indifference. The news sank without a trace, no editorials, no Opeds, no TV debates. What is more, the statement even didn't bring upon the leader the fury of Arnab Goswami.

It is second time that Nazir has tried to draw some attention by bringing Kashmir question into play - albeit for  effect only. Earlier, he left many people scratching their hair when he said that the NC founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was not a signatory to 1975 accord. One can't help but be  horrified by the dumbness of the statement. It is much like Pakistan reneging on Simla accord  with India by contending that the pact was concluded by the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in his individual capacity.

In blurting out these inanities, Sheikh Nazir is in good company: his cousin Mustafa Kamal has set his own unbeatable benchmarks in dim-witted political utterances and actions. He is like Inspector Clouseau of Kashmir politics. At a rally in Kishtawar in November last, he said Kashmiris were closer to Pakistan and also blamed India for backtracking on a no-war pact with Pakistan. The statements were not shocking only because they came from a leader of Kashmir’s most recognisable mainstream party but also because of their crying lack of context and rationale. More often than not, it is the latter reason that gives his utterances, their characteristic embarrassing dimension that leaves Omar reeling. He has moved on since, untiringly indulging his instinct for the weird and bizarre, hurling brickbats, tossing off affronts, annoying one party and getting on the nerves of another, upsetting army or infuriating New Delhi. And of course, often, discomfiting his own party with Omar at the receiving end. Not for him the subtle art of political correctness or diplomatic skill. Kamal prefers to do his politics in full clownish abandon. And if in the process, parties and personalities get hit or hurt, so be it. 
One almost gets a sense that the two leaders are operating in a world of their own, a part of the family bloodline regurgitating the practiced old stuff. But it  may not actually be so. I am not sure about Kamal whose madness originates from no method. But Nazir gives an impression that he may have some shrewd political game-plan up his sleeve. As the public indifference to his statement has underlined, people in Kashmir are already in on the game. Nazir’s recent interventions have two obvious ends.  One, a party under the growing shadow of Congress is invoking the extinct slogans re-assert its distinction. Second, such statements are part of the traditional NC armoury in its dealings with centre: an implicit message to New Delhi that for Kashmir to continue to be part of India, it is imperative for NC to remain in power. And this habit is  so entrenched that the party is hardly aware of the changed times -  - a part of the party, that is.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, on the other hand, has moved on, championing a long term alliance with Congress, even in an unprecedented turn of events hosting Congress at Nawa-I-Subah complex in the run-up to legislative council elections.  However, Omar can hardly be expected not to be a party to the statements of Nazir and Kamal. And one can even dismiss the whole affair as part of the routine politics, a division of labor, as it were. But if only it were not so disingenuous and so brazenly geared to appeal to a sentiment that NC by the very nature of its politics is relentlessly countering on a day to day basis. At the same time, it is insulting to the people of the state who are seen dumb enough to fall ever so often for this hypocrisy. It is time that the party grows up and if nothing, starts respecting the intelligence of the people in Kashmir.  

Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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