With New Delhi consistently insisting that the trouble in Kashmir is just “cross-border manipulation by Pakistan”, and refusing to look at it also as a manifestation of people’s anger and alienation, the conflict here is clearly stalemated. What is really disconcerting is that even as the ongoing impasse is hurting all the concerned parties consistently, it is not moving them towards measures that would break this stalemate.
For the past three years when PDP ruled the state in alliance with the BJP, people were constantly bombarded with promises of breaking this stalemate as was pledged in the so-called ‘Agenda of Alliance’, which formed the basis of their alliance. This document had no doubt made very attractive and boastful claims about breaking this jinx by facilitating dialogue and reconciliation between Srinagar and New Delhi and also between India and Pakistan. However, it didn’t happen as long as the two partners hared power. Instead during these years the situation has only gone from bad to worse.
Politics, besides so many things it is, is also about the people’s needs, their urges and their aspirations. It cannot operate in isolation of the people’s life situations. This is why a successful political campaigner always tries to fracture his or her politics with minute details of people’s life, something people can relate to and identify with. Any politician talking just rhetoric, devoid of real and identifiable vocabulary, does so at his/her peril, for he/she is then overlooking the basic nuance of politics – communication. This is exactly what PDP did. Therefore, it should not be difficult to understand why today PDP finds itself facing the wall. Actually the PDP’s main undoing has been its inability to maintain rapport with its “support base” -- show respect to people’s urges and aspirations – and this is perhaps why this party is facing its worst nightmare in its once strong base in south Kashmir.
Instead of breaking down its rhetoric in terms of something that people could have understood and related with, the party remained etched up in emotionalism – talking of unknown “visions” and unseen “historic initiatives” and harping of the political improbables liking bringing north and south poles together. Extolling the virtues of its previous tenure, despite the fact that people’s memories do not support such things for long – while their desires always expect and want more in the ‘here and now’ realm -- has been yet another howler. When people are day-in and day-out, treated to same redundant political speeches that brag much and mean very little and deliver absolutely nothing, they are bound to turn their backs on the “visions and initiatives” which haven’t changed much for them in the past, nor do they hold any promise of changing a thing in future.
Leaving aside the big political “achievements”, let’s turn to the mundane. Is there a single sphere of life in Kashmir which has seen any worthwhile change during past three years if its rule so that the party could put it in its achievement chart? Same has been the case with another regional major the NC. Today the party may brag about so many things but people have seen them failing miserably why they were in the driving seat.
Now that there is some talk of a new government taking shape, let it be said that when governments fail its people, the latter will also repay in the same coin. This squares it up for all and precipitates status quo – the same stalemate, which despite hurting all is unfortunately still unable to move even a pawn or a rook anywhere which could at least signal that people of Kashmir too count and matter. So if and when a new government is formed, it will have to be sensitive to people’s sensitivities. It cannot go on repeating same mistakes by harping on false, fake, and shallow emotional slogans and sexy catchphrases. It will have to take lead in building rapport with the public so as to restore their trust and faith in the institutions and instruments of governance, lack of which is one of the major causes for continued troubles here.