Omar Gloats but at whose expense?

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SRINAGAR: Former Chief Minister and NC Working President Mr. Omar Abdullah claimed on Friday that if elections were held now, National Conference will form the government on its own, without crutches of others. 

There may be an element of truth to Omar Abdullah’s assertions but these beg scrutiny. The only major difference between the anti-incumbency and disaffection with the PDP-NC regime and that of NC-Congress coalition is the time span. That is the time it took for discontent and disaffection to crystallize against either- 9 months against the PDP-BJP and 6 years for the NC-Congress. But this is not something that Omar Abdullah can gloat over. Omar’s government was also characterized by inertia, corruption and poor governance. What has rubbed Kashmiris the wrong way vis a vis the PDP is its coalition with the BJP overlain by poor governance.

The PDP sought votes against the BJP. People in Kashmir voted in large numbers precisely because they wanted to keep the BJP at bay. The PDP also promised ‘change’. The anti incumbency against the NC-Congress regime gave grist to the mill of the change slogan and along with rhetoric against the BJP, a large section of Kashmiri people voted for the PDP. But then disappointment set soon after as the PDP allied with the BJP. If we may speculate , the PDP’s calculations might have been that this angst against the alliance with the BJP could be defrayed by ‘good governance’ and the influx of massive flood relief monies.But neither happened. The funds announced by the Centre are not really sizable except in terms of numbers. Broken down into components, the funds are a joke. Sitting atop this is the poor governance record of the PDP –BJP government and incidents of a communal and polarizing nature like the beef ban controversy and the fallout thereof. This description, by and large , explains the winter of discontent against the PDP-BJP coalition-especially the PDP.

As a politician, Omar will well within is right to be pleased at the unexpected or even expected turn of events. But from the perspective of leadership, prudent and sober politics, Omar should not delude himself. If the disaffection and discontent against the PDP-BJP will garner political sympathy for Omar and his party, the National Conference, then it is a clear cut instance of transference. Negative emotion and sympathy is getting transferred to the NC merely by default; not because of NC’s record, performance in government or leadership of the party and Omar Abdullah.

Omar is intelligent enough to understand and know this but the risible anger against the PDP-BJP coalition and its transference to the NC appears to excite him. Hence his public statements and assertions. But if history is any guide and the past is a prologue for the future then a prudent and so0ber analysis suggests that if Omar forms the new government –after 6 years or before- he and his party will meet the same fate if he does not perform. Contemporary Kashmir is a different Kashmir: people are more aware, educated and literate. Information and access to information has been democratized; people have it at the tip of their fingertips. This has political implications: people can’t be fooled easily and their sense of discretion and prudence makes then size up issues, people and themes more carefully and perhaps even more accurately than before.

This is the Naya Kashmir that politicians and political parties operate in.  Any person or party which does not understand this new and changed context or chooses not to understand it lives in a fool’s paradise. The only problem is that transference and alteration of power and office in the state of Jammu and Kashmir will only be between two parties. The implications are it will either be the PDP or the NC each time people lose faith in either. This is as ominous as can be given that this duopolistic political structure will not, redound to the benefit of people given that both the NC and the PDP can take it forgranted that if not today but tomorrow, they will return to power. So perhaps in many years’ time it would be time for Mehbooba  Mufti to gloat. But , alas, this would make no difference to the lives of people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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