The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) touted and sold or oversold) its alliance with the Hindu far right party, the BJP as an alliance that was bound by and committed to the so called battle of Ideas. The sub text here was that the PDPBJP alliance would offer a more compelling narrative on both an ideational and practical level- to the dominant narrative that obtains in Kashmir.
The stridency with which the so called battle of Ideas was propounded was matched by the shrill and gaudy cacophony of Mehbooba Muftis political activism. This, it needs to be stated here, also entailed playing victim and sympathizing publicly with victims of counter insurgency in Kashmir. Apparently the intellectual architect of the so called battle of Ideas was Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu who, is also on record for having stated that his partys alliance with the far right party BJP was an attempt to engage with the new Idea of India.
Now after Mehboobas assumption of the highest office of the state and especially the gale of structural violence that has hit the Vale of Kashmir and exacted a death toll of more than 50 people with countless injured, where is the battle of Ideas?
It would appear that the silence maintained by Mehbooba Mufti is commensurate with the shrillness and audacity which defined her earlier avatar. The question is why?
Before attempting to answer this question, it may be prudent to give a context here.
Post Mufti Muhammad Sayeeds death, Mehbooba may have resisted and sought a new deal with Delhi. (This given the mystery and silence that shrouded the wheelings and dealings that happened is speculative). However, Mehbooba was undercut and the alleged new deal was scuttled from within and without. Mehbooba succumbed to the pressure and siren song of Delhi (which means power) and continued with the same power political permutation and combination.
Given this context, Mehboobas silence or the reasons for the silence over the drift of events after Burhan Wanis killing and the spiral of violence thereof become crystal clear. Mehbooba, in consonance, with the history of mainstream politics in Kashmir will not antagonize Delhi- the core of her support and the centre of gravity of power. If at all, she does muster the courage to resist Delhi or articulate Kashmirs pain, she risks not only the government but perhaps also her political career. The implication here is clear: no political leader in Kashmir, let alone Mehbooba, will dare to antagonize Delhi. Kashmiris and their lives, in these schemata do not matter. Delhi was and remains the core constituency of main stream politicians including Mehbooba.
What then was the so called battle of Ideas and engagement with the new Idea of India about?
The former, both in retrospect and prospect, was more in the nature of a trope and a canard that has historically been dished out to Kashmiris. That is, it was nothing more than a political gimmick to befuddle and confuse the people of Kashmir- a rhetorical artifice which rested on the pedestal of hypocrisy and political opportunism. Insofar as the latter, engagement with the new Idea of India was concerned, it was either delusionary given that this Idea of India seeks to subvert the diversity and pluralism that characterizes India with a homogenous idea of India with Hinduism in its perch or it was meant to please and ingratiate political bosses in India. Either way, Kashmiris were sought to be fooled and deceived. If there was any doubt to this assessment, Mehboobas stoic silence since Kashmir irrupted serves as a measure of proof to validated it.
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