On Wednesday, a music track, "who they are" from a famous album of 2010 started to ring in my ears. It became louder and louder, as one after another news tickers on the television screen started crawling about the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir. The political parties, part of power game in the State for past seventy years in different avatars, the National Conference, the Indian National Congress, and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) known for their allegiance to New Delhi had joined hands to form the government. To cobble together the three parties, it had taken about two months to two former ministers from two regional parties. Ostensibly, it seemed sure, with outside support from the NC and the Congress, the PDP with a new face as its team leader will be back in the seat of power in the state. With the number game in its favor, the new alliance had upset the apple cart of the present dispensation in the Indian capital of seeing the BJP back in power in the state. Of course, in partnership with its former alley from Kashmir and run-aways from the PDP. For quite some time it was on the grapevine that some legislators from Mufti Syed's party were up on the diving board ready to jump into the pond at a gunshot.
The state Governor instead of allowing the parties claiming of having the 'majority' to prove their strength on the floor of the state assembly, passed an order for dissolution of the legislative assembly. That was under suspended animation for five months, of course with a design. It did not engage my attention if it was a win-win situation for the combo of the three parties or New Delhi. Debating, on the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, that have always carried big question marks on them is not my cup of tea. From 1951, these have been questioned by some stalwarts of Indian politics from Jayaprakash Narayan to Morarji Desai to B.K. Nehru. The United Nations Security Council through its 1951 and 1957 resolutions endorsed by the comity of nations have dismissed them of no consequences in as much as a final disposition of the state is concerned.
It was not the "elections" that made the music track, "who they are' ring in my ears. Nonetheless, it was statements of the two BJP leaders that made me curious to comprehend the identity of the leaders of the three parties- who have chosen to be incorporated in the media stylebook as the "mainstream" parties and those outside them as the "separatists." Looking at the phrase from its literal meaning; "set of beliefs accepted by most people', the use of this phrase for these parties in itself put a question mark on this connotation. For most of them, the phrase is a 'badge of borrowed identity' of belonging to the "mainland politics." Interestingly, even the BJP leaders have denied them this identity.
The two BJP leaders reacting to the three parties entering into a political muta almost in identical statements blamed them of 'conspiring with Pakistan and on their behest cobbling an alliance. Stating that representatives of these parties had met Pakistan agencies and it was at their bidding they had stayed away from the democratic process and now they are stitching an alliance.'
The statement has ruffled feathers in all the three parties, and leaders of these parties have reacted sharply, making one of the two leaders to withdraw his statement. New Delhi, time and again has been blaming the resistance leadership of receiving directions from across the LOC. Nonetheless, the announcement of the right-wing leaders raises an important question, if Islamabad is also sitting in the driver's seat of the "'pro-India' aka "mainstream" political parties in the state. On being outsmarted by the three parties, the BJP leaders might have issued the statement against their former coalition partners out of desperation. Or with a myopic objective of pinning down the new cosmetic alliance, but it identifies the inherent fault line in relations between India and Jammu and Kashmir- deeply entrenched in the seventy years political history of the Kashmir Dispute. Since the fifties, this fault line has made New Delhi to scare even shadow of the Kashmir 'leaders,' who heedless of the wishes of the overwhelming majority had chosen to stand on New Delhi's side. In this regard, the Congress leadership has terrible track record than present dispensation in New Delhi.
In September 1947, Home Minister of India Sardar Patel got Sheikh Abdullah released from Maharaja Hari Singh's Prison. The whole purpose for seeing him out of jail to his support and cooperation for ensuring accession of the state to India. On Abdullah's arrival in New Delhi, none but first Prime Minister of India, Nehru received him at the airport and accorded a ceremonial guard of honor. For seven days, he was guest of honor at Prime Minster house, where Indira Gandhi looked after him- a rare honour. In 1948, Abdullah was part of the Indian delegation to the United Nations and unmindful of being denounced as 'quisling' he had defended India's action in the state and bashed Pakistan. Barely, a few years later after earning the anger of a powerful lobby in New Delhi for land reforms; accused of conspiring with America, he was deposed and put in jail. In 1958, he was released to be imprisoned a few months later and implicated in conspiracy and murder cases to be set free in 1964, as part of an agreement between L.B. Shastri and the Action Committee leadership after the 1964 Holy Relic Movement.
Sheikh was not the only Prime Minister of the State jailed by the Congress, Nehru's man Friday in Kashmir Bakshi after 1953, was also condemned as 'anti-national' and imprisoned. Three bureaucrats summoned Chief Minister Sadiq and Syed Mir Qasim at about 1 A.M and asked them to arrest 'Bakshi. Although, he enjoying majority support in the Assembly Sadiq was coerced to arrest him and told his arrest was in the "national arrest." In 1984, chief minister, Farooq Abdullah with 46 members in a house of seventy-five was declared as a 'security risk' by Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and denounced as 'anti-national.' A media campaign was launched against him. Thousands of his old photograph with JKLF leaders were distributed. He was dismissed as Chief Minister in a year or so after engineering a defection. In hosting a conclave of the opposition parties, he had annoyed Mrs. Gandhi. Farooq was lucky, but for Mrs. Gandhi's assisnation, he was not jailed.
Till the fault line exists, the borrowed identity is no panacea for ushering in political certainty in the state.