Thursday, August 6, 2020
 
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New Political Party - Kashmir’s political laboratory at work


B L Saraf


Kashmir may not be a big producer of commercial goods but it doesn’t lack ingenuity to manufacture political outfits which , many a time , are made to order . Raw material though has to come from New Delhi . Occasionally it comes from across the border . The striking quality of the raw material is such as to produce a malleable product , capable of being molded in any shape convenient to the supplier . Valley has a well equipped laboratory which keeps political market bustling with new products . The business started in 1953 and goes on , with new experimentations done in 1963 , 1984 , 1987 and 2002 when convenient political alliances were forged and new political parties given birth to . Expert advice always came from the outside which , most times , was in total disregard of the ground realities . August 5th 2019 , however , put a break on the business . After a brief spell of inactivity , production has restarted with a new experimentation . But only a favored product branded as ‘ Apni Party ‘ has been allowed to come out in the market . Habitual party hoppers are queuing up in front of the shop : some have gone in some are window shopping .
There , however , has been a problem . At a side effect , manufacturing process has let out a huge volume of the divisive toxicity in the atmosphere resulting in an unprecedented uncertainty in J & K .
Apni Party has come on the scene Apparently , there is nothing unusual in its formation . New leadership with innovative ideas is always welcome . But when the event gives an impression of having played to the script it has to undergo a credibility test with a level playing field available to all the contestants . New political party has been launched at a time when top leadership of the traditional Kashmir based political parties like National Conference and the PDP are detained under the PSA . The detained include three former CMs , Farooq Abdullah , Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti , who incidentally kept national flag flying high in the trying times and consistently professed unflinching loyalty to the Indian nation . They are made to suffer for an ‘ unpardonable sin’ of bringing round Kashmiris to vote in the elections , held 1996 onwards, when armed militants threatened people of serious consequences should they think of participating in the elections . Government says that detention of these political leaders is necessary for normalcy returning to the Valley and to protect “ what has been achieved by the abrogation of Art 35A and dilution of Article 370 .” This skewed argument reminds us of the one Indira Gandhi put forth to justify the Emergency and delaying the formation of 7th Lok sabha , in 1975 . She justified locking up of the opposition leaders and curbs placed across the country as necessary to “consolidate the gains of emergency .” It is however a different story that people of India threw her out at the first instance that came their way, in 1977 , and made her aware of “ what were the gains of emergency and what was the consolidation .”
J &K has to be brought out of the abyss which a neighboring country and some political actors have thrown it in . Hence , there can be no denying that J&K needs fresh political ideas , shorn off the fossilized , divisive and unacceptable rhetoric . Therefore , a new political organization - as an alternate option but not as the replacement - could be a desirable prospect , provide it comes through a genuine political process .
Could the Apni Party fit the bill ? Well , questions are being asked by the eager populace what is new in the New Party ? Political profile of its founding fathers leaves much to be desired . They are the same old, tried and tested persons - if not the political discards - who , till yesterday , were moving forces of the political parties they now deride . People will question their sudden burst of “ self realization and enlightenment ” . The party doesn’t provide a vision or a program which would be characterized as new and innovative . Being formed of persons who have travelled across parties , of disparate programs , it is hard to conceive of a purposeful agenda which the new party could pursue . The party head has told media that his aim is to seek restoration of statehood for J & K and tell people to move ahead and don’t waste time in mourning the demise of “ special status “. Well , HM Amit Shah is on record of the parliament as having assured the nation of restoration of statehood to J & K , at the earliest . Do we need a new political party just to have what stands already committed in the parliament is a moot point . No wonder the knowledgeable say that it has been propped up only to undercut political base of the NC and PDP.
Apprehensions are growing that the new party may turn into “ Her Majesty’s loyal opposition party .” According to the media reports , a top political functionary of the BJP, in Jammu , has spilled the beans – when he, while welcoming the birth of this party, said that BJP will lend moral support to it . It is amazing that an established political party , in power, is offering help to other to grow in the opposition benches !
Undoubtedly , there is a huge political vacuum in the UT . Absence of the legislative bodies has aggravated the situation . Void must be filled in by a genuine political effort which must come out of a real democratic exercise and not by the state patronage . Past experience shows that no patch work or the rag tag political arrangement has worked here . Kashmir is a fragile political commodity . It has be dealt with care and caution . Continued conflict and the wreck less political experimentation for a’ desired political product’ have played havoc in the state and shattered psyche of the inhabitants so much that some are struggling to find a meaning to their existence .
One positive , nonetheless , does come out of the exercise : when Apni Party says it won’t waste time and energy in lamenting over the abrogation of special status and focus only on the development a possibility is raised that the earlier political framework and a narrative crystallized upon colored opinions and thoughts of the Valley centric analysts may undergo a revamp . Ex CMs when free and ready for a renewed political battle must hear this unsaid message .
Nany Palkhivlla , a renowned lawyer , would often say on the plight of a common Indian : “ We get what we deserve .” The quote sounds true for us – the inhabitants of the State turned UT .







(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )



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