Time to move beyond speeches

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“You can say what you have to say to get over the hump, but once you’re over the hump, you do whatever you want to do.” In other words, it’s okay to present yourself as something moderate, even centrist, for the purposes of securing power, and once you’ve secured that power it is perfectly acceptable to revert to who (and what) you really are.  This is demonstrated in an example of Vladimir Lenin in pre-Communist Russia. Lenin said that “the government has the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns it will be through the bullet.” And so it was.

Isn’t it true of the politics between New Delhi and Srinagar as well? Or, for that matter, have our politicians conducted themselves any differently?

For reference, one can go to the electioneering for the Legislative Assembly elections that immediately followed the massive floods of September 2014. Recall the kind of rhetoric that was used to woo people to vote, and contrast it with the situation today. Lenin certainly was a great man, at least in the sense that he had the courage to state the obvious! But in today’s breed of politicians one rarely come across a person who would concede trickery.

Another example: until recently, New Delhi was all for peace in Kashmir and seemingly ready to do whatever was needed to build bridges with the people here. When armed militancy was at its peak, Delhi’s haste in trying to broker peace using even the smallest possible windows is also a known fact. But once the armed militancy started showing signs of waning down owing to varied geopolitical reasons in the aftermath of 9/11, as also because of Pakistan’s growing internal problems, there was a marked shift in Delhi’s attitude as well. By now it was also encouraged by its deft managerial skills … and had evolved a great mastery in using statecraft  together with the state’s military might to keep angered population at bay.

As is clear from Lenin’s example, the regional leadership here talks one way while out of power in order to get into power. And once in power, they use every force available —violence included— to maintain that power, and positions of privilege.

Recall: Omar Abdullah had talked of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, pledged facilitating peace process between separatists and New Delhi, jobs to jobless and what not. But once in power, people have seen in him a helpless conciliator who failed to address even the mundane problems and fears of his electorate. TRC figured nowhere in his political priorities (if there were any), not even in his political speeches while he was in power. Delhi did not talk with separatists even though Omar Abdullah’s NC was part of then ruling UPA alliance at the Centre. Numbers of registered educated jobless swelled to over 6.5 lakhs…, and Omar himself landed in trouble by assuring revocation of controversial AFSPA within days when he couldn’t move even an inch on this pledge in the subsequent over four years of his then remaining tenure.

The present ruling coalition of PDP and BJP have also promised moon and stars and their pledges continue to grow shriller by the day. However, as of now they too have not been able to give much semblance of ‘change’ which remained the major USP of their election campaign. With due respect, may we dare remind this government that elections are over, and now is the time to deliver by actually concentrating on fulfilling the promises they have already made in their “Agenda for the Alliance’. By the way let them see if securing the life and liberties of the ordinary people of God-forsaken Kashmir also figure somewhere in that agenda!

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