NC as opposition is no better

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Now that PDP is fighting to retain an otherwise grudging public support in Valley for its alliance with BJP, has NC has staged hurtled back into the reckoning?  It hasn’t. And for this the party is itself to blame. For its politics continues to be tame, pusillanimous and the passive. If the past eight months of the party in opposition are to be objectively judged, there is little that stands out. In fact, the party has let go off one after another political opportunity to insinuate itself back in public favour. Beef ban was one such. But the party failed to live up to the public expectations despite the fact that it did bring in an anti-beef ban bill in the last Assembly session. NC’s sin is that it didn’t reflect and strongly articulate the public anger over being arbitrarily denied the liberty to eat what they want to as free citizens.  

But post-beef ban, the party has hardly acquitted itself as the only major opposition party in the state. Its quietness sometimes becomes deafening.

To be sure, PDP now is most vulnerably placed. Its coalition with BJP continues to be source of deep unease in Valley and the Muslim pockets of Jammu. Time and again, the alliance touches off a heated ideological debate in Valley feeding off an entrenched public paranoia and apprehensions about the policies of BJP towards Kashmir. This has created a fraught political environment where PDP has struggled to justify its continuance with BJP. More so, when BJP has sought to go ahead with its political agenda while reducing PDP to begging for a minimal development for Valley. If the recent Rs 80,000 crore package is any guide, BJP has privileged Jammu and Ladakh over the flood-devastated Kashmir, thereby further enervating the PDP case for alliance with the saffron party.

But NC has hardly been able to capitalize on this. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s performance is still judged against his previous term in office than against that of his predecessor Omar Abdullah. This is something that NC needs to seriously reflect. The party’s brand of politics no longer resonates with the  mass of its constituency in the state. This politics, to put it simplistically,  is about seeking power for the sake of power: it is not a politics to make a redeeming difference, to execute a well thought-out agenda or to represent the aspirations of the people within the limits afforded by the mainstream politics.  And it is not a politics revolving around ideology that NC once stood for. Instead the party is more or less reduced to a group of self-seeking people who go through the motions of taking part in polls and should they happen to win, make the government, retreat from the people and soon merge indistinguishably into the mechanical business of an at best a shoddy governance, with the ministers and even Chief Minister reduced to exalted self-centred bureaucrats. The governance is bereft of its politico-ideological and social dimension which imparts a political party its soul and emotion and makes its head a leader.

If the party has to really stage a recovery, it has to give up this predictably venal and the lackluster politics. Sooner NC does this, the better for it.

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