If there is any J&K leader whose campaign rhetoric is conspicuous for its combativeness, it is that of the PDP leader and the former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Mehbooba’s statements on the campaign trail have been explicitly anti-New Delhi and have often fallen within the new fangled definition of an anti-national in India. For example, on Wednesday she accused the armed forces of using chemicals in Kashmir for disfiguring bodies of militants after encounters. She said “every human, even a militant deserves dignity after death” adding how can anyone fault the brother for picking up a gun considering the emotions that will overcome him after seeing his militant sibling’s mutilated charred body. Certainly this has raised many a question, considering Mehbooba is the former J&K Chief Minister and there are reports in the media that the practice of burning the bodies of militants started when she was in power. So, Mehbooba needs to do some explaining on this account. After all, it is hypocritical for a leader to criticize in opposition what she has herself done in power. More so, when it is as atrocious and ugly as burning of the human bodies.
But for now, it seems the end of Mehbooba is to make the sensational statements for the media and the public attention they instantly bring. Following the revelation about the use of chemicals to burn militant bodies, Mehbooba also went on to damn the BJP for naming Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as its Lok Sabha poll candidate from Bhopal. “Imagine the anger if I fielded a terror accused. Channels would have gone berserk by now trending a mehboobaterrorist hashtag!” Mehbooba tweeted.
On the face of it, these statements are vintage Mufti rhetoric. And before her alliance with the BJP for power such rhetoric was a part of her political arsenal and it was something that had helped her build her support base. But it no longer carries the conviction. Now whenever Mehbooba 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, Mehbooba 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 didnt do. Henceforth for any Kashmiri leader to command confidence of the people, he will have to live up to his professed ideology when in power. And this will be easier said than done. For, every Kashmiri leader has bitterly failed this test so far.
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