Politics is contingent on given facts, it doesn’t produce any
Politics in Kashmir is getting feverish. NC is ready to reap the harvest PDP prepared for it. PDP is busy rehearsing its original strokes. Then there are new entrants trying hard to displace the two parties, or at least bite away a significant chunk of this electoral space to strike a better deal in the end. Unlike earlier times, we now have Congress and BJP getting into the spaces that were excessively local – Muslim Kashmir. One immediate fall out of this is the weakening of the regional parties from within. We name them differently – Pro-India, Mainstream, Unionist, Traitors, Collaborators; but in the end all labels are misleading and problematic, nevertheless not without meaning. On the other side call of boycott is ready to be served, if not already on the table. The warnings from militant organisations are also a usual inclusion on this menu. This is largely the field setting as we warm up for the contest.
At an individual level, who votes for whom and why is a matter of choice and condition. For all these years no serious and sustained attempt was made to understand the participant’s mind, or his condition. We normally accuse him of treason, or if we are compassionate enough we give the concession of compulsion. The matter then comes to rest: or unrest!
The gossip strewn all over in our town today is no different than what it was in 2014, or even before. Nothing seems to have yielded its place, except the dangers that are coming closer and getting more treacherous. In 2014 PDP was geared to get the advantage of our fears. Now it’s NC. In 2014 PDP was busy welcoming new entrants. This time it’s NC. In 2014 PDP was accusing NC of surrendering before New Delhi, today this party is tasting its own preparation. And those of us outside the fold of electoral politics watch this situation at the same safe distance it was in the year 2014, and before. Boycott is the only sound permissible in this bustee of ours.
This is our state of affairs and as the Urdu poet says tellingly:
Haalat e Hazira Ko Kayee Saal Ho gayai
Our current affairs are stretched over decades
Without stirring panic, without chasing mirages, and without giving up on the ideals of our collective struggle, is there a scope for doing two things. One, working for the change that contributes to a new politics – howsoever faint the prospect is. Two, for the moment engaging with the politics that is – howsoever ugly and repelling that is. Instead of digging into motives, hurling accusations, and wallowing in emotive rage, the time for a disinterested study of our politics and society is right here. Each minutes counts, and we have a record of wasting decades.
Politics is contingent on the given facts, it doesn’t produce new set of facts. The given fact is that Hurriyat Conference cannot participate in the coming elections.The given fact is that the rise of Hindutva forces have introduced a dangerous dynamic in our politics. The given fact is that the electoral space is now getting more and more divided into insignificant parts, which means more yielding from regional parties. The given fact is that there is a huge reserve energy that is in a state of coma because Resistance camp has demonised any form of political engagement with the existing payers within Kashmir, not to speak of outside. The given fact is that there is a presence of armed groups that has introduced an element of fear and inaction among many who would wish to try some new options. The given fact is that there is a benefactor state across the Line. And then the great grand fact of our politics is the boots in the compound.
We cannot ignore one fact by being obsessively tied to another. And then these facts don’t exist in isolation. Each strand informs others, and gets informed in turn. JRL, and by extension all those in this space, cannot conveniently walk out by raising the cry of boycott. Boycott is a silent resignation, and a step further into coma. The doctrinal and ideological explanations thrown in favour of boycott amount to plain self deception. If those explanations are anything to go by, then things like ISIS are theoretically more consistent, and may be convincing, than you.
The lone choice in politics is to do politics, even if we failed a million times. And who says the only way to do politics is to right away jump into elections. If there is a deep state on one side using this electoral space as an instrument, there can be a deep society mounting a counter offensive. After all those who participate, and those who vote, are dependant on this society than they are on the deep state.