Battle for Srinagar

NC starts campaign by observing late Mirwaiz’s death anniversary

Point Of View

RIYAZ AHMAD

In an unprecedented development National Conference organized a function to pay tributes to Molvi Muhammad Farooq, father of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on the occasion of his 23rd death anniversary on May 21. The event was held by the party’s Srinagar strongman Ali Muhammad Sagar at  his official residence in Church Lane and attended by minister of state Nazir Gurezi and MLA Zadibal Peer Afaq Ahmad. Ironically, the government didn’t allow Farooq’s party Awami Action Committee to hold its annual march to Eidgah to observe the day. What is more, the party put his son Mirwaiz under house arrest to prevent him from holding the rally.
But this hardly detracted from the significance of the event: a mainstream party trying to partake in the memory of a leader who is bracketed with a disparate political ideology. And that too all of a sudden and without any mediating process that could have led to it. But one can read the event in its telling backdrop: the function was organized when Assembly polls are looming in the distance. And Sagar himself left no one in doubt about this when he talked of replicating the Double-Farooq accord of 1980s between AAC and National Conference.
Two parties which have been at daggers drawn for most of their history had surprisingly warmed up to each other through eighties. After the death of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Molvi Muhammad Farooq extended support to his son Dr Farooq Abdullah and his government. In the subsequent Assembly polls, AAC supported the candidates of National Conference. Molvi Farooq backed Farooq Abdullah again when he lost power following the defection of a section of his MLAs to his brother-in-law Ghulam Muhammad Shah. The good relations lasted till 1987 polls following which they soured again  and by the time the militancy broke out in Valley in 1989 the ties between the parties had gone into a tailspin. Rest, as they say, is history. 
Over the past two and a half decade the two parties have followed disparate political and ideological trajectories. While NC remains the major regional unionist party, AAC has become the lynchpin of separatist discourse.  This makes any idea of reconciliation between the two parties a hugely problematic proposition. And both AAC and NC are well aware of this. This is why AAC has already rejected the prospect of a new Double-Farooq accord, even while the party hasn’t appeared strong enough in its rejection. Mirwaiz took a week to dissociate from the fast developing discourse around the NC overtures to his party.
But this still begs the question why did NC organize the public event on the late Mirwaiz’s death anniversary and talked about renewing the accord. There is one overriding reason for this and it is the upcoming poll battle for Srinagar. NC is chary of the fact just in case Srinagar shuns boycott and starts voting. And then there is this big question about who Srinagar will vote for if it chooses to do so. NC doesn’t seem to fancy its chances.  And this is why it has embarked on the necessary precautionary measures.
The decision to observe Molvi Farooq’s day, therefore,  had a definite agenda. First, it was to temper the public hostility that the recurrent government crackdown on late Mirwaiz’s anniversary evokes in downtown city.  Second, it was an effort to directly reach out to AAC supporters who even while they may  not countenance another Umar-Omar accord, they wouldn’t mind NC observing their late leader’s day. And who knows, in the process, may even be favourably impacted by it.
So, the message to AAC is clear: if you don’t want to fight elections, please don’t do, but do vote for us please. But the big question still is how would Srinagar respond to 2014 polls. With another boycott? Or will the downtown city actually vote. And if it does, who will be the winner. This is the single-most important question that could very well command most of the interest surrounding 2014 polls.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 May 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 May 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 29 May 2013 00:00:00 IST




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