In a throwback to her early years in politics, former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti visited a militant’s family in Pulwama on Sunday after reports surfaced of the forces beating the family members including the militant’s sister at a local police station. Talking to reporters outside the house, Mehbooba cautioned the government against harassment of militants families. She also took to Twitter to vent her concern.
“We will not allow this. I want to tell the governor and warn the police as well that if there is another such incident, and then there will be dangerous consequences, she tweeted. Not only this, earlier Mehbooba also publicly voiced her skepticism against the NIAs arrest of some Muslim youth in the country for their alleged allegiance to ISIS. She opposed the BJP on triple talaq bill, saying the party had now “entered the houses of Muslims”. Such statements recall the vintage Mehbooba politics from early 2000.
At a time when mainstream politicians in the state couldnt move freely even in the secure pockets of Srinagar, Mehbooba used to travel to deep militancy-dominated interiors of the Valley to connect with people. She used to visit families of the militants and the separatist activists in outreach to the Valleys endemic secessionist sentiment. In 1999, Mehbooba even visited the home of the then Hizbul Mujahideen Operational Chief Aamir Khan whose teenaged son, Abdul Hameed, had allegedly been killed in custody by the security forces.
This enabled her to tap into the Valleys vast separatist political space and forge PDP into a default mainstream alternative to the secessionist political outfits which boycott electoral politics. The strategy paid off. In the process, Mehbooba turned PDP from a tentatively forged political party of the out-of-work politicians in 1998 to a vaunted mainstream political force which for some time even eclipsed once monopolistic National Conference.
But from the moment she herself ascended to the chair in alliance with the BJP, the quick unraveling of Mehbooba began, a process which seems to have culminated in the coalition’s unceremonious break-up last year. It showed Mehbooba no different than her NC predecessor Omar Abdullah and in fact, in parts less effective than him
Now out of power, Mehbooba is going back to her old politics. Her recent activities do point in this direction. It could be, as the Governor Satya Pal Malik said, her electoral compulsion as the elections to Parliament and the Assembly are looming ahead. And her party’s performance in them would be, in a way, critical for her political career. But this time, her resort to her trademark politics lacks authenticity, something that her initial outing had. And even though it would be tough to regain the lost credibility, the only thing that would help her or for that matter the other mainstream politicians in the state is the consistency in their politics, both in and out of power.
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