“Those whom God wants to destroy; he first makes them mad”. The catchphrase seems to have netted PDP in its tentacles & they have no one to blame but themselves for the abyss, they currently find themselves in.
The valley of Kashmir is looking gorgeously pristine in absolute white hue. With “Chillai Kalan” or the period of harsh winter at its zenith, the serendipity surrounding its natural magnificence can be both freezing & blood curdling at the same time. Such is the height of duplicity & paradox associated with Kashmir & its politics that nothing can be more sacrosanct than the ways & means, the propaganda & furtiveness, employed by local leadership, just to stay in the hunt, regardless of the bloodletting & crying, that has become so synonymous with some parts of this abundantly glorious valley.
Mehbooba Mufti & her organisation, the people’s Democratic Party (PDP) has resorted to her old time dirty tricks, to try & infuse some life into a party that is witnessing one desertion after the other every second day. Poetic justice some would say, for it was she, who rode on the anti-India sentiment in the valley a decade & a half back, used the wealthy secessionist propaganda apparatus to fuel her political ambitions, eventually to gain power at the altar of peace, hope & the future of Kashmiri people. But such can be the temptations & trappings of power that she along with her late father risked everything, they had gained by deciding to form a government with an unholy, unmerited support & alliance of opportunism, with another right wing party, the BJP. She was writing her own political obituary for sure.
Notwithstanding the numbing cold, having engulfed the paradise, political debate continues unabated at roadside shops, in drawing rooms, on cricket fields & in closed door party headquarters of mainstream political outfits. From dissecting threadbare the Governor’s & the subsequent Presidents’ rule to the scenario likely to emerge post elections, the state economy & the recent spate of resignations, all this is churned over endless cups of “NunChai” (Pink color tea with milk & salt) & “Lavassa” (Local bread made of finely milled wheat flour). You can hear all shades of opinion & it doesn’t matter if these came from a student or a farmer, a Gardner or a trader, a bureaucrat or a community elder or a power hungry, pseudo Kashmiri politician himself.
Ever since BJP withdrew its support to PDP in June 2018, Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP seems to be floundering every passing day & in her desperation, she is scoring some self goals too. Despite her frantic attempts, at staying relevant, people don’t seem to have taken her stand about aligning with BJP & subsequent recess in power equations, very kindly. More so in the aftermath, of what they call a betrayal of their trust, in being deserted by the Hindu right wing party, leading to the imposition of Governors rule;. Sensing the anti party sentiment, Mehbooba has resorted to her old trade of warming up to secessionist elements & their patrons. The old craft of visiting slain militants homes, threatening the Governor & Delhi with the ominous replication of a post 1987 scenario that saw the rise of militant leaders, is indication enough of the frustration having taken over sense in PDP & its supremo. Most certainly, she is finding herself & her party on a sticky wicket. No surprise then, that half a dozen of her party men including Imran Ansari, Abid Ansari, Abbas Wani, Javed Mustaffa Mir, Syed Basharat Bukhari, former economist, Banker & Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, Mufti Iqbal have left the party in quick succession, fearing isolation, within the evolving political landscape of the state. While Bukhari, Peer Mohammad Hussian & Iqbal have joined the National conference, Abbas Wani, the Tangmarg MLA has joined ranks with the peoples conference leader Sajjad Lone along with former MLA Zanskar Syed Mohammad Baqir Rizvi, former PDP spokesperson Abhijeet Jasrotia, lawyers Abrar Ahmad Khan and Irfan Inqlabi, Parshotam Kumar, Ashish Pandita and Nitin Jamwal. More churn is expected in coming days with allegiances depending on, who stood the best chances of crossing the line at the hustings.
Even when Mehbooba would have liked to make amends for her omissions & commissions during her CM stint, there seems to be few takers round the corner for such hindsight wisdom. So when she refers to her statement in July 2017 “Those youths were not going to Army camps and police stations to buy toffee and milk.” as being one of motherly love & concern, the same hasn’t cut any mustard with the people. Also reacting to the spate of resignations & a palpable rebellion within the party, she said “The party has been cleared of all the garbage now” & exhorted the youth to join her organisation in search of lasting peace & resolution of the Kashmir issue.
After drawing flak for resorting to her old tactic of visiting slain militant families, she inadvertently admitted to her leanings to militants by saying “I have been visiting people for long, and the recent visits to the homes of slain militant and a civilian is nothing new. It was on the request of the family of a militant that I visited their house as the family accused of harassment by Police and my intention was to send a message across that in the fight with militants, the government should not bring their families in and harass them. Not to let go the opportunity to have a go at her adversary, Omar Abdullah said, “During her tenure as the chief minister she used militants by sanctioning their deaths to appease the BJP. Taking to social networking site Twitter Omar wrote, “The architect of ‘Operation All Out’ and the overseer of the operations that killed hundreds of militants since 2015 is now going from one militant home to the next trying to rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation. She used militants by sanctioning their deaths to appease the BJP and now she uses dead militants to try to appease the voter. Just how gullible does she think people are?”
Time alone shall tell if this dirty trade rescues the PDP from political oblivion or would it dump her till another cycle of optimism emerges from the green fields & valleys dotting river Jhelum closer to her home town, Bijbehara.