Dynastic Dalliance

Dynastic handshake have a habit of proving far from propitious for Kashmiri protagonists – Jawaharlal Nehru famously offered his hand to Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and promptly proceeded to throw him into jail; Rajiv Gandhi gave his to Dr. Farooq Abdullah only to follow it up by unceremoniously toppling his government; one cannot say with certainty what lies in store for Omar Abdullah now that he has been accorded the ominous honour by Rahul Gandhi.The uncouth trait of forgetting, it appears, is elevated to the status of sophistication when practised by the ‘elite.’ Or else, Kashmir’s present-day royalty deems itself beholden to New Delhi’s, and would not be seen to demur when the latter condescends to confer a coveted favour.

To his credit, the young Mr Abdullah was far less exuberant than his formidable grandfather whose extravagant reception of Mr Nehru’s offer – Persian couplet and all – remains one of the most cruellest ironies in history, given what has befallen Kashmir since. The J and K chief minister’s reference to, or rather assertion of, resolving the political issues of the state is sure not to have gone down well with certain quarters in New Delhi and most of the Congress high command which has come to expect unquestioned obedience. A rubber stamp his government may be, but Omar Abdullah can summon the gumption to draw a line somewhere, even if a faint one. 

It is not just the water that has flown down the Yamuna and the Jhelum since the memorable speeches in Lal Chowk six decades ago that has averted mass hysteria over a pact replayed today – leaders’ solemn words have lost their worth as well as their weight for being thrown around so carelessly with no thought of consequences when promises go unfulfilled.Kashmir has had particularly sharp experience of political remission at the hands of New Delhi and would be wary to revel in what might have been celebrated with frenzy at earlier times. The National Conference itself has been pointedly cool in playing up the event, knowing full well how counterproductive that could prove in the mindsets of today. For all the superficial hunky-dory of the state’s ruling coalition, relations between the NC and the state Congress are not one of the easiest, and the former appears to have a seminal realisation that cohabitation is more of a millstone round its neck not the least because of past perfidies and the Congress’ compulsive habits of being up to its old tricks. In any case, the general lack of enthusiasm over Handshake Mark III is also directly attributable to the falling stock of politicians, Dynasties included. Flawed they might have been, but the times of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah still had huge elements of integrity, and both leaders – formidable in their own right – commanded awe and respect. Passing years have ensured that such intrinsic merits are the first that “political leaders” are shorn off by their deeds and record. Pacts by lightweights will hardly cause a ripple in Kashmir or anywhere else.


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