A Party Disintegrating?

The lessons our politician won’t learn!

When Mufti Mohammad Syed  left for heavenly abode, after he had realized  his cherished dream of  sitting in the  seat of Chief Minister,  many in J&K, and elsewhere, wished  his soul  to Rest-in-Peace. But the events that happened soon after his death, while his daughter and political successor  Mehbooba Mufti was in the chair, and what is happening now to the Peoples  Democratic Party ( PDP )  must have disturbed  his  peace in the grave. The  political outfit  he and his daughter  built by borrowing 'bricks' from other political parties in the state – is crumbling  brick by brick .

The situation in  J&K  is  fluid on all fronts;  no one can say, with some authority, where we are heading to.  Everything is in a mess. But the only trade that is flourishing at the time is  that of the politics – horse trading. Politicians, big or small, are making merry because  ground  is  fertile  for  them to go party shopping. The trend of politicians going party hopping, with no qualms,  stands  well  established. Having tasted  power and perks  in  a  ruling   organization  that  has gone out of the reckoning, these "public servants" can't  think of  being away  from doing  "service   to  the people". So  they hunt for a one which,  in  their calculations, will  assume power  in near  future   and  afford  them  a  chance to   "do the public service" ,  albeit with perks and privileges.

Today,   PDP  is perceived  as a dead horse with  remote chances to  assume administrative power again. So, all exit routes are open and people,who not in the distant past enjoyed  power and pelf courtesy this party, are moving out in droves.  The destined  parking place  is  the  new political outfit  assembled by one time Mufti  protégée. Not without reason, those who flock to the party  consider  it  favorite of the big brother helming  in Delhi.

The defection syndrome is not new to the state. We had a glimpse of it in 1953. But then the party  shoppers  would have some remorse. Today,  the venture  has  acquired  respectability. The actors brazen it out  on standard explanation –"to serve the people  change over is must"  and  for them  it is    "freedom from suffocating  atmosphere."

In our times the Party breaking business was initiated by late Mufti Sayed  himself: first as a Congress-man. First in 1984 he engineered defection from National Conference  and brought down    Farooq Abdullah  government. Then  after forming PDP  he poached upon workers of other parties    to  swell the party ranks.

Is it a sense of déjà vu or  double whammy for the Muftis?  For  them,  things  seem to have come full circle.  It is the same men with whom  Mufti Syed  started the turncoat business in 1984  . then in 2000  he repeated it and formed the core of his PDP, after he broke away from the Congress.   In a  sense,  the party changing is integral to the parliamentary democracy. But these days  a wily politician has  made  party jumping an art. It is  a travesty that  we have become hostages to the men   who crisscross varied political  landscape  with impunity.  The defection syndrome has become phenomenal, unprincipled and a threat the democracy. This trend can be very dangerous in  J&K   where uncertainty in every sphere of life rules supreme. In Kashmir we  imperatively  need competitive and principled local politics.

Much they may shout to bring change for better in J &K, we know  how malleable  is the metal  they are made of. They get  moulded  in any direction, caring little for the moral scruples. These   politicians  don't have  capacity to construct a unified and sustained narrative to stop, at least, the scourge of civilian killings in the state,  fight for the statehood and reclaim  the democratic space  snatched from us, leaving  big issues  apart. We don't have  a hint that these ' honorable men' have courage and the skill to redeem themselves  to the people whom they claim to represent.

Many troubles  brought on us have origin in Delhi's power corridors, irrespective of the political color.   Delhi revelled in keeping J &K politically unsettled so as allow it  a room for manoeuvring.  And  has  been successful in the design, singly, for the reason that it found local collaborators   ready to  tow the line, so long as their 'palm was greased.'

In  the world of  politics no political party can be written off so easily.   Who else than  Miss  Mufti   knows it better. She  as a fighter should retain  sense of perseverance that  her days will come back.   But  the lesson the party  deserters  have taught  her must not  be  forgotten – care  for the principle and  not  rely on  the men.  Principles endure,  morals of men may not . It is true for all other political parties – new or old.

B  L  SARAF is former Principal  District  & Sessions Judge

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