In recent months, it has become a habit with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to make statements which appear designed to please Jammu and New Delhi at the cost of Kashmir. And in doing so, she doesnt even care how these statements might play in Kashmir, her core constituency which elected her to power. For example, in her latest statement, she lavished praise on peaceful and progressive Jammu, but added that Kashmiris were yet to decide their destiny. This is almost blaming Kashmiris for their current state of affairs. Earlier, Chief Minister had declared that Kashmiris have lost Kashmiriyat whereas Jammu has learnt it as every winter the province hosted Kashmiris and had earlier hosted Kashmiri Pandits. This almost meant that Kashmiris didnt want Jammuites or Kashmiri Pandits in their midst. Earlier still Mehbooba had invoked cat-pigeon analogy for Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits respectively. These are the statements that no so called democratic leader would make, demonizing one’s own constituency, apparently to please New Delhi, the source of power.
But this is not how democracy operates in Valley. Here a politician not only gets away with statements which demean their own people but also with massive corruption practices and killings of his own people. And if this underlines anything it is that there is something seriously amiss in the democracy as it is practised in Kashmir. People not in good standing of a majority of people go on to perpetually rule the state, prospering and staying tiresomely on the scene even when people are desperate for change.
The drastic change in Mehbooba has shocked many a Kashmir observer. There is a politician who has built her base brick by brick by plying soft-separatism as her political creed. She rose to power by appealing to Kashmiri nationalism. But she has let go off this ideological so effortlessly and even cheaply. The shift is borne out of the rank political considerations and has to do a lot with the advent of either BJP or Congress as a necessary alliance partner for both NC and PDP. None of the two parties can hope to form the government without Congress support and the BJP wouldnt approve of an overtly separatist stance.
However, ours is a democracy where there are vast swathes of sentiment and the aspirations that are not represented within the ambit of democratic structures. And a democracy where politicians see New Delhi rather than the people of the state as a fountainhead of their power. By calling Kashmiris cats, bereft of Kashmiriyat and devoid of a sense of destiny, Mehbooba may have come up with some offensive epithets for Kashmiris but the inspiration for her remarks springs from her desire to belong in Delhi, to prove herself most distant from and unlike Kashmiris to deserve to be their leader. Since the alleged coup attempt that nearly denied her the chair of the Chief Minister early last year, Mehbooba has learnt her Kashmir democracy lesson well. Speaking against Kashmiris in Jammu and New Delhi would certainly serve her politics well. The Chief Minister can now expect to trump all challenge, political opposition and anti-incumbency.
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