… but why now!
History is witness that any political group when it is formed in the face of stiff opposition, has to fight every inch of its way. Armed a sufficient degree of heroic idealism, it sees everything clearly and forces a set of ideals out of the fire of battle. It will bitterly condemn the existing status quo, including the different institutions that protect and perpetuate that status quo — it takes cudgels with the viciousness of the entire system. But as the same group grows to become political party, it steadily begins to grow a vested interest in the system. And once it is accepted and accorded a place within the same system, it sheds its revolutionary idealism as quickly as the “average soapbox orator” changes when he gets a few thousand bucks in his pocket. Now he does not want any change of a system which will take away his fortunes, political and otherwise.
This is exactly how it has been and still is with every single political party here – National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and all others. Therefore, no single party could claim a higher moral pedestal than the rest on this count. However, what is really interesting is that various political parties here talk sense and with much revolutionary zeal only when they are out of power and favour. Once part of the system, they revert back to doing everything that ensures that privileges and perks keep flowing unhindered.
NC has for quite some time now been accusing the Centre of “slowly doing away” with the conditions on which the accession of the state to the Union of India had taken place. “We should say this with courage that if the accession of Jammu and Kashmir happened, it happened on certain conditions. J&K cannot be compared with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal because they acceded to India without any conditions while as latter on certain conditions.”
NC is right when it says that while J&K has kept its share of the agreement, Delhi has not kept its word. “What type of agreement is this? If the accession has happened on certain basis, it is your responsibility to maintain that basis much more than it is the responsibility of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I seek forgiveness, but they (Centre) have failed to fulfill their responsibility. That is why the situation in the state has deteriorated to such an extent,” NC vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah is on record to have said this on more than one occasions.
Now there is little scope for anyone to disagree with whatever NC has been saying. Of later another regional major PDP too has been making more or less similar assertions. However, why is it that neither of the two parties said whatever they are saying now during the times when they were ruling the state – when actually such statements would have carried relatively more weight? Nobody heard such forceful assertions about the State’s institutions – its Constitution, its flag, it’s people’s identity, its peculiar geographic and socio-political or even the situational landscape — from the leaders of these parties when they were at the helm of affairs. What did NC do when the some Congress ministers of its previous coalition government with it openly refused to have the State Flag on their official cars? PDP’s short innings at the helm in partnership with the BJP has been no different; in fact it has been one of meek and absolute surrender for the crumbs of power! One can go on to count countless other instances wherein both these parties simply ate a humble pie and made huge and most of the time unnecessary compromises both with State’s identity and its autonomy so as not to lose favour of New Delhi.
As already conceded, NC’s latest assertions are based on merit and historic reality, and as such cannot be disputed. Government of India has certainly not kept its share of the agreements and promises with the people of Kashmir and that is why the situation has come to a point where popular perception about Delhi here is that of an adversary and the “oppressor”. So while nobody could disagree with much of what NC (or for that matter PDP too) has been saying vis-z-vis Delhi’s manipulations, however, this convenience of saying all this now and not when it should have been said, certainly points to the general malady afflicting the mainstream politics here. They talk of the State, its people and their interests only when they are out of power and not when they actually have the power to undo some of the very basic damages, and force Delhi to abide by its commitments. And that is the tragedy.