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Politics of Aya Ram, Gaya Ram in Kashmir Elections
|by R C Ganjoo|
J&K is no issue at all. There is only a miniscule minority in Kashmir which thinks in terms of Omar Abdullah is thinking. People are interested in good governance, development, peace and prosperity and not in politics of rabble-rousing. Abdullah family to rule the state in the manner it liked for nearly three decades. But now in 2014 elections, anti-incumbency is very much visible across the state, with common people, political pundits and NC-watchers openly and unambiguously predicting a great defeat for the NC, as also of the Congress.
Mercifully, Omar Abdullah, who is leading the party from the front as he has no other option left, has failed to take into consideration the existing ground realities in the state. He should have focused his attention on the public-related issues and issues of governance and development and taken on the corrupt elements in the political establishment and administration, but he has preferred a dangerous path that would only destroy his party. He perhaps is of the view that he might win a few votes by raking up the otherwise settled issue of J&K.
It only suggested that he is desperate to win a few seats in the Valley to remain somewhat relevant in Kashmir politics by treading a dangerous path.
NC had contested the Assembly elections in 2002 and 2008 on the issue of autonomy and the so-called Kashmir issue, but failed to win even 30 seats in any election. He would also do well to remember that the new Government at the centre will not oblige any Kashmiri party by diluting the nation's age-old stand on J&K. J&K was, is and shall ever remain an integral part of India and those like Omar Abdullah who believe that they can achieve what they want are simply living in a fool's paradise.
This election may be interesting as it is expected to spring many a surprise, making things unpredictable with new entrants and many old faces with changed labels in the fray. As usual Kashmir is witnessing a season of defections, falling within two categories. One kind is the typical case of top political brass of the parties working overnight to weaken their opposition and encouraging the making of political turncoats. The other kind is that of the habitual turncoats who shift loyalties when denied party tickets. It is also a heyday for retired bureaucrats and employees making a bid to rehabilitate themselves in politics. Thus, politicians who till the other day scoffed at the PDP and its leadership have overnight become admirers of the Muftis. Or those who have been vocal critics of BJP’s hidden agenda, suddenly feel the necessity of singing paeans in praise of what the entire Sangh Parivar stands for. The scenario is in keeping with the recent trends of collective ideologies of the parties being weathered down by opportunistic men in politics. There is only one ambition – being in power. And only one conviction - to the politics of 'Aya Ram and Gaya Ram'. Nothing much to look forward to, despite the infused hype.
Interestingly, a number of senior leaders of various political parties have also changed the sides on the eve of elections and more defections from some parties can’t be ruled out as Phase-I of polling will start on November 25 while last and fifth phase of voting was scheduled for December 20.
Six former Ministers and 12 sitting legislators including eight MLAs and four MLCs have resigned from their parties and defected to other parties or having decided to contest the election as Independent candidates. Former Chief Secretary and Power Minister in Ghulam Nabi Azad Government in 2008, BR Kundal has become the latest and prominent Congress leader to quit the party and jump into electoral battle from RS Pura seat as an Independent candidate. He is sitting member of the Legislative Council.
Another former Chief Secretary of J&K and ruling National Conference sitting MLC Sheikh Ghulam Rasool had recently resigned from the NC and joined PDP along with his son. A war of words had erupted between Chief Minister and NC president Omar Abdullah and Rasool with Omar describing latter as “deadwood” and the former bureaucrat retaliating the barb saying “the elections will tell the all”.
Major embarrassment for the Congress came when its veteran leader Mangat Ram Sharma resigned from the party to join the PDP.
While ,the BJP, which was making maiden attempt for power in Jammu and Kashmir with Mission 44+, suffered maximum dissensions in its cadre with six of its sitting MLAs and several other senior leaders raising an open banner of revolt as soon as the party released its list of candidates for Jammu.
Though, BJP has lost several leaders to other parties or as Independents, it has gained many in the process as well. The first to change sides was two times MP and former Minister of Congress Choudhary Lal Singh, who has been fielded by the BJP from Basohli at the cost of its sitting MLA Jagdish Raj Sapolia.
National Conference sitting MLC and former Minister Ajatshatru Singh has also joined the BJP while former Mayor of Jammu Municipal Corporation and Congress leader Manmohan Choudhary has also quit the Congress and joined BJP. Talib Hussain, a former Minister and National Conference MP in 2000 Lok Sabha by-election from Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat is now BJP candidate from Rajouri Assembly seat while Abdul Gani Kohli, a PDP leader, is now BJP candidate from Kalakote seat. Prominent Youth Congress leader RS Pathania has also joined the BJP and has been fielded by the party from Ramnagar seat.
Two National Conference leaders-Tariq Hussain Keen and Kuldeep Dubey alias Mangu Shah are contesting the Assembly elections on BJP mandate from Inderwal (Kishtwar) and Gool-Arnas (Reasi) after resigning from their parties. Another former Minister in 2002-2008 Government, Thakur Puran Singh has been fielded by the BJP from Darhal seat of Rajouri, which he had won as an independent candidate in 2002.
Two Congress Ministers in 2002-2008 Government-Choudhary Gharu Ram, former MLA from Suchetgarh and Yogesh Sawhney, former MLA from Jammu East-have also announced that they will contest the elections from the constituencies they had won in 2002 after being denied the party mandate.NPP sitting MLC Syed Rafiq Shah has also switched over to the PDP.
Surprisingly, till yesterday BJP, looking ahead to pocket “44 plus” seats in the coming polls, would not contest on all 79 Assembly segments. But, made it clear that the BJP would field 70 candidates on its own and there was no question of the pre-poll alliance with any other group.
On the other hand, Peoples Conference leader Sajjad Lone’s ample hints of a likelihood of a post poll alliance with Bhartiya Janata Party after some kind of a pre-poll understanding with the party which is not fielding any contestants against him is not as much a matter of concern as his complete mesmerisation and new found love with BJP and Narendra Modi.
It would be interesting to know Sajjad Lone’s take on BJP’s contentious issues and its massive focus on abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. The legacy of his father (Abdul Gani Lone) that Sajjad Lone is pinning hopes on to win the elections is one of liberalism, secularism and civil liberties and it stands in striking contrast to the core of BJP’s and Modi’s ideology. It is pertinent to mention here that late Abdul Gani Lone as a Congress Minister in JK sate had publicly announced that “Art 370 has no relevance it should be thrown in Jhelum river.”
This time, the BJP’s manifesto for the upcoming Assembly elections talks in detail about Article 370, in two parts. The first part reads: “The party will initiate comprehensive debate in all three regions of the state to ascertain as to whether the Article 370 has benefited a common man in all these years, or it has deprived him of the benefits which people in rest of the country enjoy.” And second reads: “The party is committed for abrogation of Article 370, and if voted to power, will work towards removing all obstacles hampering state’s complete integration with the country.”
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