Saying is not doing!
Politicians have a knack for saying one thing and doing something else. They master the skills of claiming one position while actually occupying another. This difference of their positions becomes more pronounced when seen and analyzed in context of space and time. For instance, recall what different political parties say when they are out of power, and then how do they behave once they are able to grab political power. On this count, there is actually not much difference between the two major regional parties of Kashmir, certainly not in terms of their interaction with their principal support base – the people of Kashmir. Out of power they speak one language; in power, a different one!
Indeed a cursory look at the world politics also churns out countless such examples. When Barak Obama was campaigning for the Democrat nomination for president in 2008, he differentiated between himself and fellow candidate Hillary Clinton by criticizing her plan to use a mandate — by which government forces citizens to buy healthcare — as an “enforcement mechanism” to “charge people who don’t have healthcare”. He claimed the use of a mandate for those purposes was something he couldn’t go along with, something that demonstrated a “genuine difference” between himself and Clinton. However, in April 2012, Obama, by now comfortably settled as the US President, urged the Supreme Court not to rule against the mandate in ‘ObamaCare’ because his healthcare reforms cannot survive “in the absence of an individual mandate”.
Such flip-flops and duplicitous positions of the political leaders are endemic as politics has, world-over, more or less same set of rules and everybody active in the political arena goes by them almost identically. “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 someone siding with the have-nots, those who have been and are being wronged – the ordinary people – 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 – the keeper of the haves, the powerful!
This is also 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 for the politics between New Delhi and Srinagar, as well as in the politics conducted from Gupkar for and with rest of the Valley?
At the height of militancy from early to mid 1990s here, New Delhi was for peace in Kashmir and seemingly ready to do whatever was needed to build bridges with the people. When armed militancy was at its peak, Delhi’s haste in trying to broker peace using even the smallest possible windows is a known fact. But once the 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.
The political unrest of successive summers between 2008-10 renewed Delhi’s fears afresh, but then people’s participation in consecutive elections was conveniently taken an indicator of ‘all being well’. So Delhi once again reverted to its age-old complacence and started thinking of Kashmir just as a disposable chip it could use as and when needed to consolidate its vote-bank elsewhere in the mainland until 2016 unrest happened, when all of a sudden there was again a renewed urge to do something in Kashmir. But then the elections in different states in the mainland once again changed the focus and priorities of the political establishment and Kashmir again slipped off the priority list.
As is clear from Lenin’s example, he talked one way while out of power in order to get into power. And once in power, he used every force available to him — violence included — to maintain the power he had gained. Our politicians may denounce Lenin for his ideology and beliefs, but in practice they follow him with utmost religious reverence!