Why Are Kashmiris Disappointed with the PDP-BJP Govt.

Was it the tsunami of expectations that the PDP generated and the attendant inability to deliver on account of structural factors?

KASHMIR defies predictions, stereotypes, and even staid analyses. Those who do venture onto the domain(s) of predictions about Kashmir and its politics are more or less doomed to be modern day Cassandras.  The articulation of disappointment and angst by Kashmiris’ against the current ruling dispensation of Jammu and Kashmir maybe a case in point here. The PDP- BJP coalition has been barely in power for six months but the ‘street talk’ and even sober commentary suggests that Kashmiris are disappointed with the regime.

There is ingress of irony to this: the interregnum between the parliamentary elections and the Assembly elections suggested a wipe out for the National Conference and a deep seated desire for change and a new paradigm in terms of mainstream politics in Kashmir. Here the classic factor of ‘anti-incumbency’- deemed to be akin to almost law in modern politics- could be held to be at work. The National Conference- Congress combine had been in power for six years; ‘natural ‘ law of anti incumbency against the regime would kick in on account of both omissions and commissions of the combine. And Kashmir being Kashmir, the spasms of violence and violent activity that occurred during the erstwhile government’s tenure would add grist to the mill of anti-incumbency rendering it more poignant.  The results of the Parliamentary elections validated this dynamic: NC-Congress received a drubbing and lost all the seats. Both analysts and lay observers extrapolated a similar result in the Assembly elections. We are all familiar how the post Assembly elections panned out. What , however, is important and significant here is that given the intense anti-incumbency against the previous regime and the aggregation of massive expectations and their projection onto the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), it was widely believed that the PDP government (on coalition  or not) would inaugurate a new era in Kashmir’s mainstream politics; the corollary was that a robust alternative to the National Conference had been found and the party would henceforth win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris.

This was the general assumption. Fast forward six months. It is now widely and generally believed that the PDP-BJP combine has turned out to be a damp squib. (Allowance is made here that while Kashmiris rejected and reject the BJP and its ideological underpinnings and gave the PDP benefit of doubt but the PDP could have redeemed itself by making the real the ‘governance dividend’ in the state). What, the question is, accounts for this swift judgment? Are Kashmiris being too harsh in their judgment?  Or was it the tsunami of expectations that the PDP generated and the attendant inability to deliver on account of structural factors that explains the issue?

There may or may not be an element of truth to both sets of questions. However, the explanations thet they beget would fall in the domain of the ordinary and prosaic. Deeper and more profound forces may actually account for the Kashmiris disappointment with the regime. These essentially pertain to the underlying problems that define Kashmir. The PDP manipulated and exploited latent anger against the then incumbent into a certain voting pattern and behavior. It reaped political dividends in the form of increased seat share for the party but the anger of the people was not merely over ‘bread and butter’ issues. Or , in other words, governance issues.  The anger pertained, among other things, to how the Kashmiri psyche and Kashmiris’ ‘collective unconscious’ has evolved over decades.  While the catalyst of this anger may have been an issue of a specific set of issues,  its roots were deeper and were/ are historical. Shorn of accretions and rhetorical baggage, the collective unconscious and psyche of Kashmiris corresponds to what Lant Pritchett, a Harvard academic, in a different permutation, combination and context called ‘different uncertainties at different horizons’. It is these ‘different uncertainties at different horizons’ that define Kashmir, its politics, people and their consciousness or even unconsciousness. And it is probably this that accounts for the angst and alienation of Kashmiris from the PDP- BJP combine. (This is not to discount the deep discomfort that Kashmiris have with the BJP and the nature of its ideology).

The question now is: can this deep uncertainty at different horizons be ever resolved?  Unlikely unless the more profounder and real aspects of the problem are  attended to. This day appears to be far off-submerged in the mists of future , real politik and myopia.

In this sense Kashmir is stricken by what has been called the ‘Kashmir curse’- a beautiful land under the spell of political and even natural turbulence. This spell, however should not mean and imply fatalistic acceptance of the condition that defines Kashmir. If it is viewed in this way then it would become a self fulfilling prophecy. What then can be done to redeem Kashmir and its politics? This is a poser; the best and the brightest have dwelt on this question and issue but this has not yielded any real and tangible effects. But what may be different this time around is the churn and fluidity that defines the contemporary world. Our world is on the cusp of far reaching and deep change. Name any domain-, business, trade, commerce, technology- and it is in the midst of churn. New paradigms are emerging that give short shrift to older and dated ones.  It is this paradigmatic change that needs to be grasped in its totality and then a fresh look at Kashmir taken.

Will the current political dispensation do it?

Unlikely is the answer. This regime has legacy issues to contend with plus it is defined by a ‘managerialist’ approach to politics. Managerialism, implies and means merely tweaking and managing the quotidian affairs of government which we have seen as not really addressed the fundamental and deeper issues that define Kashmir. The effects are well known and documented to bear repetition here. However, what can be inferred from this approach towards Kashmir is powers that  be have not and do not learn from history.  As Santayana said,’ those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it’. History, unfortunately, is not a linear process or phenomena; it is cyclical. So Kashmir and Kashmiris are probably set up for another bout of an ungainly future. The day that Kashmir will be defined by peace-within and without- then appears to be far off. Till then, the political and emotional calculus of Kashmiris will oscillate and gyrate to the rhythm of Pritchett’s formulation.  And they will register their disappointment and angst against anyone and everyone that either chooses not to understand the deeper undercurrents that define Kashmir. The void in the Kashmiri conscious and unconscious will only be filled by different uncertainties with different horizons. This, in the final analysis, is Kashmir’s tragedy.

Kashmir is stricken by what has been called the ‘Kashmir curse’- a beautiful land under the spell of political and even natural turbulence. This spell, however should not mean and imply fatalistic acceptance of the condition that defines Kashmir. If it is viewed in this way then it would become a self fulfilling prophecy. What then can be done to redeem Kashmir and its politics? This is a poser; the best and the brightest have dwelt on this question and issue but this has not yielded any real and tangible effects. But what may be different this time around is the churn and fluidity that defines the contemporary world. Our world is on the cusp of far reaching and deep change. Name any domain- business, trade, commerce, technology- and it is in the midst of churn. New paradigms are emerging that give short shrift to older and dated ones.  It is this paradigmatic change that needs to be grasped in its totality and then a fresh look at Kashmir taken.

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.

ACT NOW
MONTHLYRs 100
YEARLYRs 1000
LIFETIMERs 10000

CLICK FOR DETAILS


Observer News Service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

KO SUPPLEMENTS