Abdullah to Mufti: Old wine in new bottles
From the patriarch of Abdullah's, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the tale is same, only the characters change. The characters shape differently with the plot set by Delhi, where the old wine is fed in new bottles. From solemn agreements on shared sovereignty to accords and so called agendas–the 'Agenda of Alliance' to quote one, the heady wine served in fresh bottles implies power without substance, promises made only to be conveniently broken. Subversion is the weapon used for breaking promises. It is a plot of accords turning into discords, even before the ink with which they are written dries. And any change of power dispensing in Delhi from so called secular to cultural nationalists has hardly seen a change in the conceived plot, as it has rolled out over last 69 years.
SMA was promised shared sovereignty, with the plot providing for a separate constituent assembly, hence a separate constitution. Between the Indian constitution and one of JK, a constitutional bridge was plotted. It was named article 370. The bridge was meant to tide over a period of transition, pending the final settlement. It was however used to subvert JK constitution. Called the tunnel through which Indian constitutional provisions have been transmitted and implanted to undermine JK constitution, article 370 far from providing safeguards became a funnelling device to ease constitutional intrusion. Ironically article 370 got another name–an empty shell! Tunnel or an empty shell, before the constitutional intrusion was made operational, SMA originally a hero in the plot had his role reversed to that of a villain. He had to cool his heels in a jail.
Twenty two years of characterisation from hero to villain entailed a change, providing for re-emergence as a hero, with an accord put on the scene. It had however seeds of discord sown in it, as there was no going back to the original plot of shared sovereignty. Clock doesn't turn back, was the reason provided. A new element was introduced in the plot, succession from father to son and from son to grandson was provided for. However it had to fit in with the broad contours without deviation from what was conceived in the plot. The cub of the old defanged lion tried to proceed on his own steam, only to be told in clear terms that the character had to go by the conceived plot. After a lay-off, the cub re-emerged on the scene with yet another accord.
One family on the scene however was becoming too much for the plotters to handle. It was getting to be the proverbial one wife is one wife, too many. A rival in the same stream had to emerge, one who could exploit were the one the hot seat
deviate from the plot, and put a foot wrong. The rival contender was meant to cash lapses of one on the hot seat. Dogged, hardworking Mufti Mohammad Sayeed fitted the role. A rival family had emerged in the plot in the same stream. Thenceforth it was meant to be a change of guard with rivals in contention for the hot seat occupying it in turn. Mufti in lead role started getting ideas on his own. Instead of an accord, he was mollified with an 'Agenda of Alliance'. It proved as the accords had, put on the scene only to be aborted.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was left high and dry, as he remained devoid of what he needed to deliver. Under the weight of unfolding plot, he stared losing space faster than he could have imagined. It was an anti-climax, for long Mufti had gone along with plotters in plotting one act after another. It was getting hard to believe that they could do unto him, what he helped in plotting for others. It was to take a heavy toll of the planted character. The wheel seems to have turned full circle. The seat of the supposed hero was turning to be graveyard of one character after another–from SMA to Mufti. The willing embrace of the seat has turned into reluctance to embrace it, being too hot to handle
Not without a reason is Mahbooba Mufti scared to take the hot seat. The trappings of power might be attractive. However, more often than not, it has been power sans substance. Outwardly it might be the seat of chief political executive. The fact however remains; the seat is devoid of powers of desired execution. It is power without its ingredients. The litmus test however would be–for how long would Mahbooba avoid taking the call?
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Author is doctor in medicine, a social activist, and a senior columnist)