India of Today & Abdullah’s Place in it

In recent past the National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah has issued many a controversial statement. Or so the media in India has made us believe. He has sought autonomy for both sides of Kashmir as a solution to Kashmir. He has said India cannot take back Pakistan Administered Kashmir, so that part of the state belongs to Pakistan. In his typical style, he also said that Pakistan was “not weak and was not wearing bangles to allow India to take that part of Jammu and Kashmir under its occupation”.  On the face of it, there is little that seems wrong with the statements. This has been his opinion all along. Also, if we observe the statements from the point of view of the people in Kashmir, there is nothing earth shaking in them.  But as is the case now, such statements soon balloon into an instant controversy across India, most of it media-manufactured. And invariably, some NGO or an individual is ready to take the offense and approach the court to seek a punitive action. Thankfully,  in case of Abdullah, the Supreme Court has refused to pass any order on a PIL seeking action against him over his remarks on PaK. An NGO, the Anti Terrorist Front India announced a bounty of Rs 21 lakh prize for cutting Abdullah’s tongue, saying he has “insulted” the country with his pro-Pakistan remarks and was speaking “against” the RSS.

This state of affairs is reflective more of the new state of affairs in the country, than about some transformation in Farooq Abdullah. In fact, Abdullah has always been a newsmaker. He has always had this inherent knack about hurtling himself into spotlight in whatever he does. Be it singing or dancing at the government or private functions or making statements that instant notice from the media. There is more to it. A separatist rhetoric has traditionally been a best bet for a Kashmiri leader to mobilize public support. This gives them an easy advantage over theirs rivals. More so, when the rivals are in power and as a result need to exercise restraint. In power, however, Abdullah has largely been a pro-New Delhi politician, even speaking against his own people. But through it all, Abdullah the politician has stuck around and survived. Despite his temperamental excesses, his see-saw between extreme political postures and his love for play and pleasure with a seamlessly bad governance to boot, Abdullah has continued to retain his position as the  most familiar, if not the popular politician of the state. In his own characteristic way, he can capriciously drift in one direction, fast retrace his steps and then swerve to another direction. But normally this has to do with Abdullah’s local politics. But in India now, the discourse about what one can say or not say has progressively narrowed to a point where small and sometimes very petty statements stir up a volatile political controversies and people get ready to punish and kill. If India goes further down this road, things can get really messy. That is, if they haven’t already. There is a desperate need to pull back from the brink. And it is time the ruling dispensation in New Delhi sees the writing on the wall.      

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