On the third death anniversary of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, her daughter had nothing but only apologies to offer to the people of J&K. The PDP that her father left in its glory is today appears to be a sinking ship. Her apology today for her ‘toffee’ remark will not change anything on ground because that was not the only mistake she committed during her tenure.
Let’s take a look at the reasons that led to PDP’s fall from grace and whether there is a way to come out of this morass she finds the party in.
Traditionally, PDP has been playing the role of buffer between National Conference- a unionist party and the Resistance. This role of a buffer went well with the people and this party was part of the government in only five years of its formation, in 2003. Since NC and Indian National Congress failed to counter the alienation and stop bloodshed in Kashmir, that was rampant in the years from 2008 to 2014, people vehemently voted for PDP in 2014 Assembly elections again, more so by the people of South Kashmir. Ironically, once a bastion of PDP, South is now a hub of militancy.
Whatever plausible or implausible reasons PDP may offer for cobbling up a coalition with the right wing chauvinist and anti Kashmiri party, people see it as a breach of trust. PDP had asked people to vote for it to keep the BJP at bay but the party leadership backtracked on this very slogan by ending up hugging BJP for government formation. This means the buffer that existed was destroyed. Voters felt alienated and thus took to extreme measures. In absence of genuine democratic space and expression to voices of dissent, the youth were pushed to the wall. It was in this backdrop, the scholars like Dr Rafi, Dr Subzar and Dr Manan chose gun over pen.
If that was not enough, the ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti instead of dousing the fire post Burhan Wani when the whole Valley plunged into turmoil placed the blame on the victims. She censured youth by saying that they were responsible for their own death by coming in the line of fire. She went to the extent of questioning the reason for their right to protest. This could have been avoided at the juncture and she should have measured her words before dishing them out. Late Mufti Sayeed, I believe would have in this situation sympathised with the restive youth and appealed for restraint.
She exacerbated the situation more by singling out negligible five per cent who according to her were angry with the policies assuming the rest ninety-per cent as being OK with the happenings. She could not be so naïve not to know such statements would only infuriate people further and lead to more resentment.
Though she survived the scare of 2016 but nothing really changed on ground. Her party legislators didn’t even muster the courage to visit their constituencies. Such was the anger among youth that the MLAs admitted of fearing backlash if they visit their constituencies. She did nothing to ameliorate the situation and appeared to be a mere spectator.
She could have at least put a stop to further erosion of the party base had she pulled out of the coalition then, but she chose to cling to power. This strengthened the public perception that her coalition with the BJP was not aimed at giving respite to Kashmiri people but to grab power.
There were sufficient reasons for a breakup as she and her party leaders had already begun cribbing that BJP was not following the Agenda Of Alliance and the slow pace of development was because promises made by centre were not being kept.
At the internal front, dissent was brewing in the party and came to the fore immediately after BJP pulled the rug beneath her feat. Those who were in the party to reap benefits of power raised the banner of revolt exposing the vulnerability of a party with a timorous leader at the helm. These leaders went public accusing her of nepotism and a coterie of hijacking the party. What followed thereafter was a spate of resignations of some known faces from the party. Mehbooba could do nothing but watch this all haplessly. And then on her fathers death anniversary, she made another politically incorrect statement saying her party was now free from garbage, so educated youth should join and strengthen the PDP. These speeches will do nothing unless she has some work up her sleeve to show. It is time she re-starts from the scratch again and next time when she speaks, she does not sound apologetic but talks from the position of strength.
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