Zero sum game

I must confess that I have no crystal ball to tell what all this is about nor am I prescient to foretell why Srinagar has attracted so much attention of men in charge of the nation’s security.
Zero sum game
File Photo

It's not funny, not funny at all to see the national security establishment camping, virtually so, in Srinagar for days on end. Yes, you name them individually they have all been here these past two weeks and more, the Army top brass, the para military heavyweights, not to forget the so-called interlocutor, the  designated  "representative" of the Modi Government, more like the Resident, the British Viceroys would have in important princely State capitals to look after imperial interests. It all began with the Army Chief's longish visit to the State coinciding, almost, with the dismissal of the forgettable administration led by the People's Democratic Party's Mehbooba Mufti and her loyal cheer leaders, and followed by a series of bureaucratic powwows in New Delhi, In Srinagar and importantly in Jammu, the hub of all the BJP, orchestrated by Ram Madhav, the RSS honcho and, of course, by the pompous loud mouths of the party in the winter capital of the State, the PMO's man in the State Jitender Singh rarely out of sight. Again, without forgetting the political busybodies, including a former State Minister, one named by a former Army Chief as one of the recipients of Army doles, working overtime, preying on floating  MLAs, after the Mufti dismissal, to form a group attractive enough for BJP to do some more fishing. The BJP men predictably denied interest in staging a comeback but their unfinished agenda, of cutting the valley to size, requires them to be present  to encourage some at least of valley MLAs to cross the floor. Ladakh and Kargil are deemed willing BJP allies. Or, so the saffronites believe. These are the little games Indian politicians are adept at playing. Remember the Aya Ram- Gaya Ram phenomenon fathered by the Indian politicians a good many years ago in Haryana and now perfected into a fine art by the Bharatiya Janata Party whiz kids in the North East following the recent elections in the States in that region. So given the "special circumstances" obtaining in Kashmir  it is only natural that the Modi Government in Delhi does not give up the advantage it gained in the Valley by hoodwinking the Muftis nearly four years ago. We were given a foretaste –of what to expect when the party leadership went out of its way to celebrate the birthday of the late Shyma Prasad Mookerjee, once a Minister in Nehru's cabinet, a known Hindu Mahasabhaite, later credited with forming the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forbear of the present Bharatiya Janata Party. His sudden death in custody in the State is sought to be raised to the level of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh. Mookerjee was opposed to Kashmir's special status, its separate constitution, flag  etc, a programme adopted by the BJP later and its "war cry", as it were, in the Hindu heartland.                                                                     

So am I surprised that New Delhi should virtually have chosen to shift its national security shop to Kashmir in the aftermath of the dismissal of the discredited PDP-BJP coalition. Yes,  New Delhi perhaps was more than upset by the namby-pambiness of the Mufti Government, its inability to deliver the valley or to in any manner  diminish the ardour of  militants following  killing of the youthful militant commander Wani. Not surprisingly no tears were shed in Srinagar at the unceremonious ouster of Mehbooba and her crew of second-raters;  Jammu chose to celebrate the showing of its muscle by the Central party leadership. It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that the demise of the Mufti coalition did virtually not cause even a political ripple, let alone protest demonstrations. The inevitability of the coalition's collapse was taken for granted from day one.  I  say  this with some confidence having this time over spent the whole of  two months, my longest ever stay in the summer capital in decades. All my previous visits were confined to a week at best – and that too while on assignment for my Calcutta/Delhi paper. 

Forget me for the present, the issue that interests me the most is that Mr Rajnath Singh, the country's Home Minister, with a charge technically next only in importance to the Prime Minister's. Another matter that Mr Modi is his own all-purpose man who obviously doesn't need redundancies such as Foreign, Defence, Commerce, Petroleum, Electronics etc etc Ministries; Modi would have us believe that he doesn't need any political aides except, of course, the all-seeing colleague, Amit Shah, who has been  a conscience-keeper of sorts of Modi's since their days together in Ahmedabad. But the surprising part for my purpose is that Modi allowed his National Security  Adviser, the Home Minister and a mass of secretarial paraphernalia to be away from Delhi and  in Kashmir – and for so long. Imagine the  Home Minister and the NSA together. And where does that leave Mr Dineshwar Sharma,  Delhi's  twinkle-toed interlocutor – representative in  Kashmir, New Delhi. Grapevine has it that Mr Sharma largely reports  to the NSA; some silly man even seems to suggest that Mr. Sharma has had very little direct contact with the Prime Minister whose representative  he would normally be deemed to be. In any case, even as the security establishment seems to have had an"extensive personalized overview" of what ails Kashmir, Mr Sharma's role would be minimal. Mr. Modi wouldn't seem to be the kind that believes more being merrier, particularly when anyone you touch in the Security Establishment, Home Ministry included, would seem to be "an old Kashmir hand".  And, sheer blasphemy,  nearly forgot to mention that Governor N N Vohra, who  just completed 10 years of his Rajbhavan stay in  Kashmir, is an even older Kashmir hand.  I must confess that I have no crystal ball to tell what all this is about  nor am I prescient to foretell why  Srinagar has attracted so much attention of men in charge of the nation's security. Suffice it to say that all's not going well. I would prefer a Gen. Bipin Rawat to the Security Czars. With the former, under the present dispensation,  you can at least be sure what the short-term  prescription is about.

And as I close, a l'il bird paused to share a fleeing thought : Could it be that the Security mission was equally interested  in Ministry-making in Kashmir post-Mehbooba. It could well be, said the bird, that one of the tasks ahead is to cobble together a grouping of MLAs from the valley (naturally all Muslims) to join the 27 odd BJP MLAs to cross the halfway mark to form a government in the State. The Assembly has some two years of its term left, time enough to execute its political  agenda in the State. And hence worth the party's while to give it a try. As it is some Kashmir MLAs aren't averse to breaking away from mother parties. Am not sure whether any or all would risk an alliance with the BJP but opportunism isn't  unknown to  politicians. Could that be the reason why New Delhi  chose not to dissolve the Assembly. I hope the bird is wrong.

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