Shah Faesal Twist

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The resignation of IAS officer Shah Faesal and his probable plunge into politics has added a dash of drama to the upcoming Parliament and possibly simultaneous Assembly polls. Faesal has resigned in protest against the killings in Kashmir and what he calls the “marginalization and invisibilization of  Indian Muslims”. At one level, it is an unprecedented step and takes some courage, but in the context of Kashmir, it is likely to generate its share of controversies. And it is already apparent in the  social media and political reactions to his decision. While National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has welcomed him into the fold of politicians, Hurriyat M chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has expressed hope that his concern over the killings would guide his choice of politics.

Things are likely to get more interesting as the elections draw nearer. Already Omar has set in motion the debate about the need for a single party rule in the state after a decade and a half of coalition governments. But the situation on the ground looks unlikely favourable to any of the parties securing a majority of their own. 

The preparations for 2019 polls are on and the exercise  looks set be a triangular contest between National Conference, BJP and Congress. Though PDP and People’s Conference are also in the race, the duo seem unlikely to be contenders for government formation. What sets Congress apart from the the BJP is that its secular credentials make it the more acceptable choice for an ally for a Kashmiri party  After the disastrous run of the PDP-BJP coalition, any Kashmir based party with largest number of seats will be chary of allying with the BJP. At the same time, the effort by NC, a default favourite from Kashmir will seek to secure a majority of its own, which as of now doesn’t appear a probable turn of events. The problem with Kashmir polls since the eruption of separatist movement in 1989 is that people hardly express their fascination for a political outfit overtly. As a result, there is no build up or a wave in favour of any party even while there is an undertow of mass support for them. 

At the same time, elections are a time which bring into play the basic questions about the political status of the state, turning the exercise into a sort of referendum between contending political ideologies. How does Faesal fit into this banal scheme of things? As of now, it is difficult to imagine him settle into this predictable state of affairs. It can be a very risky venture too. Once his novelty wears off, it will be hard to tell him apart from many other mainstream politicians whose existence has little relevance to what is going on in the Valley. Coming from where he does, Faesal still retains an aura of authenticity about him. And it would be a tragedy if he too were to become one with the crop already there. 

 

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