Perhaps never since early nineties have the major mainstream political parties in Kashmir have found themselves as irrelevant to the larger political discourse as they are now. If anything the heckling of the National Conference chief Dr Farooq Abdullah during his Eid prayers at Hazratbal was a telling example of the total public contempt for them among the people. In fact, far from being chastened by this, Abdullah later went on television to denounce the protesters. Ironically, he sought the support from the interviewing television anchor for his politics. What should have been a moment of reflection for the NC turned out to be an occasion of endearing himself to New Delhi.
Ditto for the PDP. The Valley celebrated when the BJP withdrew support from her government and forced her to resign unceremoniously. The contemptuous posts and memes against Mehbooba Mufti reflected a long pent-up frustration with her government. Her complicity in the BJPs militaristic overreach has left her political reputation in tatters. A reputation she had built painstakingly over the years by getting herself down and dirty on the ground. To be fair to her, for three months after her father the late Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, she tried to hold onto her ideological ground. But then she gave in completely. From the moment she resumed the alliance without BJP giving in to any of her demands for development concessions, the quick unravelling of Mehbooba began. It confirmed to Kashmiris as an article of faith that all that the mainstream leaders sought was power. And that they had little qualms about abandoning their ideological moorings for the same.
Now the situation has come to a point where the state government is struggling even to hold polls in the state. The mainstream politicians cant venture out on to the road. They cant even hold a public meeting. Their statements only generate contempt among the people. And mainstream leaders by their self-serving actions have ended up exhausting whatever little political capital they had. No wonder, the anger in Valley is endemic and the alienation with New Delhi is absolute.
And mainstream political parties have a distinct role to play in this. Truth is among them there is no credible leader people can look up to. The mainstream politics now represents little more than the pursuit of power and its enjoyment. No pro-establishment party seems to have the time to relate and bring its politics closer to the aspirations of the people. None of them is ready to stick their neck out and protest meaningfully over the killings of people, their voters. The prevailing tragic situation needs to change and it cant be changed by the leaders who dont relate to people and who have little regard for them and their lives other than as their voters.