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NC-ANC Unfication: A Distant Dream
|by R C Ganjoo|
A new chapter on Kashmir history is opened once again for political discussion, whether National Conference (NC) – Awami National Conference (ANC) will come together or not. Much is being talked in political circles about the unification of Kashmir’s premier political organization (NC), and its breakup that struck after the death of the legendary lion of Kashmir Sheikh Mohd Abdullah. After the breakup of NC into two, it also went into social rivalry between Sheikh and Shah family. Whatever happened to Kashmir after that is history.
Before history leaves its imprint on Kashmir politics, the merger of the two N C headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah and ANC by Begum Khalida Shah , both have to discuss threadbare the political overtures and go for self introspection. But it seems very difficult for both the stalwarts to work under one banner, until they shun their respective hard-line and egoistic positions.
According to media reports Dr Farooq Abdullah paid a courtesy visit to his eldest sister Begum Khalida Shah to know after years about her welfare after his younger brother Dr Kamal Mustafa’s visit. Political observers believe that the visits of brothers to Begum Khalida Shah have political significance then a social visit. Reading between the lines, political pundits give much importance to Dr Farooq’s move, in the backdrop of preparations for 2014 assembly elections.
Merger of the two is not a new story. During G M Shah’s life time, a serious move by Dr Farooq Abdullah had taken place when the later in public apologized to his brother-in-law and requested him to come back to his party. At that time this serious political development on amalgamation of NC-ANC story in Kashmir also hit the headlines.
However, in response to Dr Farooq’s merger proposal, G M Shah, former chief minister and founder of ANC, discussed vehemently in its working committee and reached to the point that both (NC-ANC) should have a similar stand with regard to Kashmir dispute and both adopt a similar approach. The committee also expressed that ANC has never believed in the politics of compromise, be that the movement against autocratic rule or any other developments. Eventually, both parties constituted a four member high powered team which held series of discussion on unity which ultimately proved futile.
Interestingly, Dr Farooq Abdullah had earlier also tries to revive the strained family relations with his brother-in-law late G M Shah after a vertical split in the NC in 1982. Shah, however, called it “a social patch-up with Dr Farooq not a political one. He has his own political agenda and I have my own."
The Kashmir watchers believe that political rivalry in Sheikh- Shah family after the death of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah has now entered into third generation between Omar Abdullah (Chief Minister J&K state) and his first cousin Muzzafar Shah Senior Vice President ANC. On one front father Dr Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah ( Chief Minister of J&K) and on second front mother Begum Khalida Shah( President ANC) and her son Muzzafar Shah( Sr. Vice President ANC). Sources close to NC say, Dr Farooq Abdullah wants to put the speculation of political rivalry of the families to rest for the future. But it seems a herculean task for Dr Farooq Abdullah because he is apprehensive of Muzzafar Shah who could prove to be a threat to his son Omar Abdullah whereas some senior leaders in the NC and ANC are not happy with this move too.
Political analysts feel that if both the NC and the ANC, deep cadre based organizations, contest together with their respective agendas and seat-sharing arrangements, the other political parties in the state like the Congress, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), BJP and other outfits shall have to fight against this formidable alliance by forming a joint front. But the chances of forming a joint front seem bleak because opponents have different ideologies. Dr Farooq does understand that his party’s standing in the eyes of people are ate lowest. NC, therefore, today finds itself between the devil and the deep sea. National Conference is making every effort to consolidate its vote bank.
Looking at ANC’s political graph sheet, it has not won any seats in any of the elections it fought but still carries a committed vote bank along, created under the leadership of late G M Shah. Significantly, ANC has encroached upon the vote share of the National Conference in its strongholds, which has the potential of throwing NC gambit into a tizzy.
Following party founder late G M Shah’s foot-prints, Begam Khilda Shah a veteran political personality of the state, eldest child of late Sheri Kashmir Sheikh Mohd Abdullah is silently galvanizing ANC cadres to meet social, economical, and political challenges. She believes that war against corruption and good governance cannot be won by emotional and misleading speeches alone. Begum Khalida Shah joined active politics, with the aim to preserve the heritage of the real National Conference. According to her a plan was being hatched to finish the legacy of NC.
The Jammu & Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) is the only party left which has to find a comfortable ally in the state. Dr Farooq Abdullah, however, succeeded to install his son Omar Abdullah, but all is not well for Omar Abdullah to govern the trouble-torn state. As of now the coalition government of NC-Congress has utterly failed in the state due to its bad governance. As a result both the parties have lost their credibility in the state. Unfortunately, Congress is at the crossroads and will have to face a tough time because the factionalism bedevils the party and besides keeping the warring groups of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prof Saif U-din Soz together. While, Congress’s pre-poll or post poll alliance with NC has to face Mufti Mohd Sayeed’s PDP from one side and third front in offing on the other side.
The ANC having its presence in all the districts of the state is likely to make NC-Cong alliance ‘non governance’ and corruption an election issue. No doubt, the NC is cadre based, but it has lost its public image due to poor performance and its alliance with the Congress two times . Moreover, Dr Farooq’s autonomy proposals along with other demands have lost its relevance after being rejected by the Centre. As a result, he is left with no plank in the forthcoming elections.
ANC and its supporters have unfurled the banner of providing a democratic alternative in the blood-drenched valley purely focused on removal of corruption, red tapism and embezzlements. The party has pinpointed those candidates who would go for self introspection and make the details of their moveable and immovable properties in and outside the state including foreign countries public before contesting the elections.
Before any political party would come forward to declare its assets in public, it was ANC which started from its home. In property statement the party founder late G M shah had left behind nothing except a Maruti Car, cash of Rs. 3.00 Lac and ¼ share of his ancestral family property compressing 4 kanals-8 marlas of land & house at Magarmal Bagh, Srinagar. And party chief Begum Khalida Shah’s total income from her family orchards is Rs 15000/- annually and she draws a monthly family pension of Rs 21000/-as the widow of Late G.M. Shah. She owns a ¼ share out of her residential house behind Nedous Hotel Srinagar, and her share out of her ancestral property includes land at Tangmarg, Soura Srinagar, Khalmulla, Daryadeen Sahib Ganderbal, Danjibai Srinagar and Jammu.
Tata trained Muzzafar Shah, senior vice president ANC, well known for his political maturity and wants to prove his political worth in the present scenario, his movable and immovable property includes ancestral property at Magermal Bagh comprising of one Kanal land and ¼ part of residential house near Nedous Hotel Srinagar, a two storied residential flat at Gurgoan Haryana, constructed out of loan raised through banks, one personal motor car and shares in various business establishments.
Politically, what has National Conference (NC) and Awami National Conference (ANC) gained after the vertical split in 1982? Since the question is being asked in both the parties’ rank and file and a very powerful coterie in NC and ANC tactfully have managed to keep both the parties at loggerheads. The reason behind the division was taking over the reins of J&K state by Dr Farooq Abdullah after the death of his father Sheikh Mohd Abdullah in 1982, wherein he sacked his father’s entire cabinet which included late G M Shah( son-in-law of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah)who had given their blood and sweat in building up the National Conference. Dr Farooq brought new faces in his cabinet having no skill in governance and people with least experience in handling party affairs.
G M Shah, a self esteemed personality founded Awami National Conference in 1983 in protest against Dr Farooq Abdullah’s wryly attitude and his insensitivity.
G M Shah, being a shrewd politician and witness to oscillating history of Kashmir succeeded in toppling Dr Farooq Abdullah’s government and remained Chief Minister from 1984 to 1986 with the MLAs from NC ,which includeded G H Mir ,Sheikh Abdul Jabbar ,Hakim M Yasin ,Sonaullah Dar, Mohammad Dilawar Mir, late G.M Badherwahi, Ali M Naik, G.N Kochak, Dr Mehboob Beigh, M Khalil Jowhar, Ms K L Wakhloo, Ms Gurbachan Kumari and late Devidas Thakur. This serious political experiment was initiated when Mrs Indira Gandhi with positive approach put forwards a proposal before G M Shah on his terms and conditions. Unfortunately, a vicious coterie in Congress party, after the demise of Indira Gandhi systematically managed to scuttle her proposal as a result of that Kashmir since then slipped into wrong policies and doings.
The political legacy of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah is nearing its end with growing ages of Dr Farooq Abdullah, Begum Khalida Shah, Dr Kamal Mustafa and Sheikh Nazir in the horizon of Kashmir politics. Now, it is to be watched keenly, whether the generation next of respective families, Omar Abdullah and Muzzafar Shah would ever try to put the house in order or destroy it forever.
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