Time to be realistic: A month after APM

The charges levelled by National Conference and PDP indicate a growing sense of disappointment
Time to be realistic: A month after APM

A lot of noise is being aired in Kashmir by some of the traditional mainstream parties that no substantial follow up action has taken place in the month after All-Party Meeting on Jammu and Kashmir on June 24. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and attended among others by Home Minister Amit Shah, while the leaders of the recognised political groups from J&K had travelled to Delhi to be there.

The charges levelled by National Conference leaders, particularly its vice president Omar Abdullah that there is nothing but disappointment at the end of one month after the APM, the PDP has been no less harsh in its criticism, show whether there is something wrong with the presentations that they made at the APM or they drew conclusions based on their impatience for the quick results.

A realistic assessment demands that they should first place before the people what they said at the APM, and how? There are only few known things; one, that some leaders wanted the restoration of Article 370 and reversal of all other decisions taken on August 5, 2019. I don’t think there was anything wrong in airing all these issues at the APM, for all what they were talking about had been the part of the Indian constitution for almost 70 years. Recalling history is not a bad thing to do, especially when it was their first chance to tell Prime Minister as to what did they feel about the August 5, the date that is now being given out as the new starting point of the history of Kashmir where equality of all the countrymen at places reigns supreme. The essence of democracy is to exchange ideas. Here, I have a point to make; that it all concerned the constitution of India as on August 5, and now again it is all about the Constitution of India in the post-August 5.

In all essence, it is a constitutional issue which needs to be analysed in proper perspective. The over-politicization of the issue has its consequences. It is needless to recall that how the NC and PDP had announced the boycott of the Municipal and Panchayat polls in 2018 in protest against the Government of India’s proposal to scrap Article 35 A and Article 370, which ultimately it did on August 5, 2019. That means that they knew what was coming. They had the democratic option to build a safety valve and show their political strength in the polls, they missed the opportunity.

On December 1, 2013, moths ahead of the general elections in the country in April-May 2014, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had declared at “Lalkar rally” in Jammu that there should be a debate over the merits and demerits of Article 370. This was not taken seriously. Each word in the political speeches is a dot in history. The point to be understood is that Modi had given a notice of debate on Article 370 at least five years before the scrapping of the constitutional provision on August 5, 2019.

There was no institutional debate. The consequences are there.

On this issue ( the revocation of August 5 decisions), it is a misplaced optimism that the Modi government would have done anything. The abrogation of these constitutional provisions is BJP’s accomplishment and why should the party or its leaders do something to undo that.

Second, the leaders had sought the release of political prisoners, and an end to the barrage of central laws which impacted the cultural, political and demographic identity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Yes, these could have been some of the Confidence Building Measures, but how many of these leaders prepared a draft or made a presentation to Delhi after the APM. It is one thing to grant interviews and make public pronouncements, but quite another to prepare and present the case in a convincing manner. Tweets are good but the documented cases are better. The second-hand knowledge or retweeting, howsoever powerful these might be cannot become substitute for thoughtful presentations. No one is oblivious of the fact that there are inner dissensions not only among the parties but also within the groups on so many issues.

The leadership lies in bold decisions and behaviour, and making use of all opportunities that come their wa. Their expression of “ disappointment” with the APM must have been the result of their inner reflection, but using that as a slogan to tell people that they could not get anything substantial done by Delhi in response to what they aired at APM , is also reflection of their inner weaknesses and puncturing hope for the future. They should analyze it seriously.

They must find a way out that is convincing rather than charging Delhi with stubbornness or reposing their faith in the old tactics that brought J&K to this pass.

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