The “Post-Mufti” Scenario
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The “Post-Mufti” Scenario

He was the only one in entire scheme of things, since independence, having an ability to hold two divergent ''schools of thought'' together.

It is the end of an era. With the death of the Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Syed, an 'auto' full stop is marked on one of the incredible chapters of political landscape in Kashmir. He was the only one in entire scheme of things, since independence, having an ability to hold two divergent 'schools of thought' together. The departed leader has indisputably taken along the charisma and flair to wrap the antagonistic ideals in a single sheath. Given the flux within the party and the charged undertones with unflinching influence of local leaders from the other party, the scenario is set to turn fragile. The unfolding of events and their manner of 'unlinking' in the absence of a strong gluing force, till it emerges again, will have large scale and long range ramifications. The immediate path is too complex and thorny to walk upon unscathed for the new hands holding the reigns.  

The history of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed three important chief ministers expiring while holding the office at three important stages significantly critical to the political evolution of Kashmir. On 12th December, 1971, while the Indo-Pak war was going on, Ghulam Muhammad Sadiq died holding the status of first Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir after having been the Prime Minister of Kashmir for one year plus some days. The chair was immediately taken over by Mir Qasim, but all through his stint of three years, under a bigger plan through back channels of communication, the decks were being prepared for an unusual turn of events that eventually led to the historic Indira- Sheikh Accord in 1975. This Accord was a turning point in the history of Kashmir and it is believed that Sheikh's tall postures saw disdainful derision and eventual disrespect due to severe criticism, especially in the post turmoil state of affairs. 

In 1982, the 8th of September, when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah breathed his last, many political analysts, both  at national and state level, anticipated the vacuum, in terms of political maturity, the lack of which seemed certain to befall on the political arena. The premonitions turned precisely relevant and the prickly manifestations betrayed those who preferred to remain less skeptical. The immaturity at the hands of those who were pulling the strings left Kashmir on the jigsaw and eventually crashing out at the end of the decade. The whole course after the demise of Sheikh Abdullah saw jagged tides involving the swapping of positions between Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Governors rule and Ghulam Muhammad Shah. Impulsive adventurous hand shakings with Rajiv Gandhi and the influence of the undercurrents led by local, though influential, leaders coupled with efforts to annihilate MUF tapered out the decade of 80's into turbulent political upheavals. The post-Sheikh period was too rough and critical in terms of its manifestations to the historical perspective of Kashmir in the years that followed. 

Kashmir is at a crossroads again. A tall leader with unflinching qualities of pulling the crowd with his melodious tunes and charm to hold even the enemies in the pocket has left. The incumbent Madam Mufti has a very sharp edged surface to delicately pace through. Many issues that she shall have to confront immediately and simultaneously would make her 'hot seat' more of a 'thorny chair' than, supposedly, the bed of roses. On one hand she will have to deal with her frail party numbers in the coalition that places her on weak bargaining foot. The other partner happens to be shrewd and have lost quite a ground in their own strong voter compartments during the last one year dispensation. The wounded will now have the time to resurrect the animal instincts in them. On the other hand she will have a challenging task to place all the divisive characters within the party together. The old grudging individuals will have to be tactfully reigned in. The cadre, at every level, would need a fresh impetus and energy that, believably, has lost its blaze because of the fact that the party in the past one year got mostly mired up in controversies leaving the matters important to the cadre on back burner. And then importantly comes the delicate status of Kashmir, the general issues like Article 370, Flag issue, Migrant Rehabilitation, AFSPA, Central laws and many others. The security scenario and its impact on the separatist faction is again an issue demanding cautious handling. Madam Mufti has earned a fame of being soft and sympathetic towards separatists in the Indian mainstream. 

Given the scenario, it would be difficult to foresee the 'Post-Mufti' period and its influence on the future of Kashmir. Post-Sadiq and Post-Sheikh periods have had hammer strokes on the historical twists and turns in Kashmir. The immature maneuvering in the past had to be paid with a heavy price and this time over, given sensitivity of the situation, we can only hope that good senses prevail upon all those dealing with the delicate threads.  

(The writer is a post-graduate in Management Studies from the University of Kashmir)

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