A Parody Of Herself

Mehbooba Mufti has termed the killing of Mannan Wani as the victim of “relentless violence in Kashmir” and the statement expectedly has run into controversy. First one to take exception  to it was her chief political rival Omar Abdullah. He termed the statement as  “crocodile tears” which “won’t work any longer”. Mufti made the statement in the context of the sedition charges filed against some Kashmiri students in Aligarh Muslim University for allegedly planning a funeral prayer meet for Wani. She said that  the  governments in other states  should be “sensitive” to the situation and “prevent further alienation”.  Making a common cause with the students, Mufti said “it will be a travesty to punish them for remembering their former colleague.” 

On the face of it, the statement is vintage Mufti rhetoric. And before her alliance with the BJP such rhetoric was a regular feature of her political arsenal and helped her build her support base. No longer.  Now whenever Mufti makes such a statement,  it sounds as a parody of herself.  For over three and half years that her party was in alliance with the BJP,  Mufti made every conceivable compromise to retain the goodwill of her alliance partner.  She ceased to be a leader who while being pro-India  preferred to stand with their people in times of the crisis. And she  presided over the killings and blindings and brazened it out to stay in power. She didn’t stand down to side with people  which is what she should have done to retain the confidence of her people. But this is something she didn’t do.

Mufti had risen to power by appealing to Kashmiri nationalism. But she let go of this ideological narrative so effortlessly and even cheaply. The moment she became the Chief Minister, her quick unravelling began. It confirmed to Kashmiris as an article of faith that all that the mainstream leaders sought was power. 

True, this certainly has something to do with the structure of the politics in the state. The mainstream leaders straddle two diametrically opposite political worlds. And now with the Hindu nationalist BJP ruling at the centre, the chasm between the two worlds has become much more pronounced. But still the transformation that mainstream leaders undergo in power is too drastic to reconcile for the people. This is something that renders them eternally discredited among the people when they lose power. The impact has been more for Mufti as her politics from her previous time in opposition was characterised as soft-separatist. This is the reason that Mufti  is currently struggling with her credibility in the state. And restoring it will not be an easy task. Only thing that can be hoped to get her back into public favour in the long term is the resurrection of her intrinsic politics and showing consistency with it. 


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