Kashmir’s political parties back to politics of mudslinging to ‘score points’

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As the possibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir is picking up pace, the political parties are returning to their old avatar of maligning each other in the recent rallies and interaction with the media.

In the past one month, all the prominent leaders from across the political parties are accusing each other for the current “crisis” in Jammu and Kashmir.

On 2 December, the National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah in a rally in Chenab valley accused Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) founder and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for joining hands with the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and termed “NC was the only saviour of people of J-K”.

Addressing a public rally in Kishtwar, Abdullah said that after the 2014 assembly election results, he had extended a hand of friendship to Late Mufti in order to save J-K from wrong intentions of the BJP.

Abdullah said that, however, at that time, Late Mufti had his own obligations so PDP created an alliance for which the people of J-K paid a huge price.

“Lamhon ne khata ki, sadiyon ne saza paayi,” Abdullah remarked. “Now, we do not know for how long we will be punished for that one wrong decision because not even a single promise made to us post-revocation of Article 370 has been fulfilled.”

Though there was no political reaction from the PDP against Abdullah targeting Mufti, Peoples Conference (PC) chief Sajad Ghani Lone grabbed the opportunity to take a shot at Abdullah by terming him the “biggest liar” of J-K.

Lone said that it was NC who brought the BJP to Kashmir when Omar Abdullah was a part of their union cabinet in New Delhi.

“Today, he [Abdullah] is saying that if they [NC] were in power in 2019, they would not let Kashmir derail this situation. They were in power in 2010 when hundreds of children were killed. Their government was only a puppet at the hands of the union ministry,” he said.

Lone said that it is unfortunate that being a part of the same alliance, NC is not even sparing its own constituent members to score brownie points.

Both PDP and NC are the main constituents of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) that was formed in October 2020 to fight for the restoration of the special status of J-K following its abrogation on 5 August 2019.

However, post PAGD formation NC and PDP are finding it hard to be on the same page when it comes to confronting the current regime in New Delhi.

A senior leader in the PAGD said that the “hard stance” taken by the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti post abrogation of Article 370 doesn’t suit the NC’s brand of politics, which believes in keeping a “cordial relationship” with New Delhi for better future deals.

Meanwhile, the newly floated party Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) is also not leaving any stone unturned to bash the old guards in the valley.

Earlier this week, JKAP president Altaf Bukhari accused PDP for being “establishment’s party” while PDP referred JKAP as a “B-team” of the BJP in the valley.

The PDP president Mufti, without naming JKAP, said, “proxy parties created by the BJP were to make unconstitutional decisions of 5 August 2019 as constitutional by allying with them in the upcoming assembly polls”.

Reacting to Mufti’s remarks, Bukhari termed the PDP as “L. K. Advani’s party”. Advani is a senior leader of the BJP and was union home minister when the PDP was formed in 1999.  

Bukhari, who was a part of PDP and held a cabinet post in the BJP-PDP government, said that the PDP foundation in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999 was also “tagged by many as the proxy of veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani.”

Bukhari also attacked NC and said that the party enjoyed power with BJP in 1999.

“The NC also enjoyed power with BJP from 1999 and PDP had an alliance with BJP post 2014 assembly polls. They are the actual B-team of BJP,’’ Bukhari said.

Political experts believe that given the political history of Kashmir, it would be impossible for the political parties to be united ahead of the assembly polls.

“The mainstream political parties have always been after the power in Jammu and Kashmir. It will be very hard for these political parties to remain intact once the assembly polls are declared,” said Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a renowned Kashmiri political analyst.

Hussain said that the history is testament that for power the mainstream political parties have always been “more loyal than the king” to New Delhi.

“If we recall the chapters of history, right from Sheikh Abdullah’s era, the mainstream politicians have been at each other’s throats.  And today is no different,” Hussain said. 

The mud-slinging between the politicians has come at a time when all the political parties are claiming to be the “saviour” to restore the lost glory of Jammu and Kashmir.

“At a time when these politicians should have been united to fight for the common cause and toil hard for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, it is unfortunate to see them engaging in petty politics,” a political observer, wishing not to be named, said.

“That is why people have lost faith in these politicians. They don’t care about people. They only want to be in power and can go to any extent to take care of their own interests.”

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