Mehbooba’s Press Conference: A disconnect from reality or impotent rage?

If there is a compendium of words that best describe Mehbooba Mufti’s interaction with the media, it is “irascible luridness”. The Merriam Webster defines the word “irascible” as “having a very bad temper; the same source defines the word “lurid” as “causing horror or revulsion”. Interestingly Merriam Webster defines lurid as “shining with the red glow of fire seen through smoke or cloud”. Clubbing the two words together and elaborating these in the context of Mehbooba’s media interaction, means a horror or revulsion causing bad or ill tempered tirade or outburst. At a more fundamental “psycho-analytical” level, Mehbooba’s outburst reflects an increasing disconnect or even flight from reality,  helplessness against an extraordinary condition, the frustration emanating from both resulting in an outburst or an angry tirade. It bears mention here that as Mehbooba went on with her outburst, Rajnath Singh attempted a few times to motion her to either stop or calm down.

All in all the media interaction instead of being an attempt to explain the government’s stance , reach out to the people and formulate a new and fresh approach was in the nature of an elemental and no holds barred aggressive and vituperative diatribe against the media in particular and the people at large. Consider the iteration and repetition of the “5% people out in the streets and 95% at home tirade. Where does/did the Chief Minister get these stats? Was there research done on these? Who gave her the 5% stats? Is an additional contingent of BSF troopers flown specially to deal with the ongoing protests meant to curb and contain the “5%” who are out on the streets? If this is the case, what sense of proportionality and ratio justifies this extra deployment of troops in Kashmir? What the repetition of the 5% thing appears to mean that the Government has arrived at a ball park figure based on pure or even idle speculation- to the point of bluster and wild exaggeration? The aim here might be to underplay what is happening in Kashmir. A darker reading is that if the Mehbooba really believes in the 5 % assessment, then there is a wide and deep disconnect between Mehbooba reading/assessment and the situation obtaining in the ground. This is insofar as the nature of Mehbooba’s assessment what it reflects is concerned.

More insidiously and tellingly, in terms of Mehbooba’s state of mind which we referred to as “irascible luridness”, is concerned, her tirade on the kids killed in the ongoing protests is telling. She questioned the “innocence” of the kids that have died stating explicitly that those killed had not gone to buy toffee or milk. The implication here is stark: Mehbooba is stating the kids that died are/were not innocent; the forces only fired in self defence when attacked. This bizarre statement comes at a time when almost all the denizens of Kashmir are reeling under the psychological ramifications of those killed in the protests so far and when each killing generates a feedback loop in the emotional universe and psychological world of Kashmiris taking people on a self defined guilt trip. This, in turns generates a resolve to sustain the protest movement.

The two instances culled from Mehbooba’s tirade are only the egregious and most explicit of her “media interaction”. There’s more she said that reflects anger, bitterness, frustration and helplessness on her part.  Either ways, the CM is either disconnected from reality or she is choosing to put a spin on a situation that essentially merits and warrants sobriety, prudence and statesmanship. Is Mehbooba up to the task? No, not if her tirade and outburst in the media interaction is any indication.

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