Rhetoric Apart, Breaking Parties Is A Number Game


 The rebellion within the PDP ranks took one more twist on Friday when rebel legislators led by Imran Raza Ansari held a press conference in response to the party president Mehbooba Mufti’s outburst against New Delhi during her visit to Naqashband Sahab shrine to pay tributes to the July 13 Martyrs. 

 Talking to reporters, Mehbooba warned New Delhi against breaking her party, saying such an attempt would be 1987 redux when the rigging of Assembly election which Muslim United Front was tipped to win gave rise to separatist leaders like Salahuddin and Yasin Malik.

The rebels said they were not up for grabs for anyone and were acting independently to set the matters right within the party. They said they didn’t have faith in Mehbooba’ leadership and their larger fight was against  “two-family rule”.  

Even though so far five MLAs and two MLCs have raised a banner of revolt against Mehbooba, only five of them turned up at the press conference – three MLAs and two MLCs – which was also designed to be a political show of strength. The rebels, however, didn’t make things clear as to their future plan of action and talked more in terms of the differences of opinion cleverly couched in a principled position.  

Rhetoric apart, the rebels are unlikely to change anything on their current strength. Though they have claimed more support in the PDP ranks – with Ansari even hunting at support in NC –  none of them has so far publicly supported them. But it also doesn’t mean that the alleged support will not materialize in near future. At least this appears destined to happen if the existing political situation is anything to go by.  And the PDP president’s Martyrs’ Day statement to reporters underlines it all. 

 However, what can’t be easily missed is that the people are indifferent to both the PDP leader as well as the rebels. More so, to the fate of Mehbooba. The nature of her politics over the past four years has drastically reduced her political stock. From once arguably the only mass-based mainstream leader, she has become one of the most hated by the people. Hence a cathartic celebration on social media at the loss of her power. So, even if the PDP splits, hardly anyone in Kashmir will mourn the loss. One important reason for this is the contradiction in the politics of the mainstream leaders in opposition and in power. 

But public support or opposition of any action does not necessarily determine the morality or otherwise of an action. Or for that matter, justifies or invalidates it. The current talk of the break-up of the PDP to form a new government comes as a throwback to the similar such developments in the past. And in public memory, as also in much of the analytical opinion, these developments are etched as original sins that became a factor in the Valley’s descent into turmoil in 1989. We don’t know how the potential new defection will be remembered but the actors of the current rebellion will be wise to remember it.


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