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Something’s never fade away from collective memory!

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By: Irshad Ahmed Bhat & Zahid Sultan Magray

In the contemporary troubled phase of state politics, the supposedly pro-autonomy National Conference (NC), one of the main regional party of Jammu and Kashmir state is trying to play what typical oppositions parties do in Indian electoral politics. Politicians across the wide ideological spectrum often indulge in double-speak, but here we have an entire different creed of people in politics who have probably broken all records of political posturing. National conference, like many other parties here, is a classical case of demagoguery.

NC is pitching for restoring regional autonomy, revoking PSA , withdrawing case against the youth , establishing Truth and reconciliation commission, protesting  against Jammat e islami ban  which is a and also bringing back the positions like- Prime minister and President to Kashmir- it is said we used to have that at some point in time.

The real political outrage in the valley was triggered by the 1987 assembly elections, generally perceived to be highly rigged, which led to the massive victory of NC-congress combine and defeat most of the MUF candidates. This generated a feeling of skepticism regarding the validity of results. It was in the wake of disillusionment with the internal politics- Indira-Abdullah Accord (1975) and disbanding of plebiscite front in general that the present phase of conflict was started in valley, which took manifestation in various negative forms of power and authority including separatism and militancy. Zahid G. Muhammad, in his book, ‘Kashmir in war and Diplomacy’ argues that what” …it 'Faux pas' of Sheikh Abdullah that is responsible for Kashmir tragedy.  If 1947 was a ' faux pas' why he repeated it in 1975. The acute discomfort created by what was seen as sheikh Abdullah's betrayal entered into the collective sense of Kashmir identity. Post 1975 witnessed youth protests against Sheikh Abdullah in Srinagar; attempts to desecrate sheikh Abdullah's grave on the banks of river Dal lake…. all attempts by Kashmiris to retrieve and engage with the memories of agony and betrayal”.

Now that is history and slightly too far away in the past. But what this party did in the coming years and until recently is also vividly clear in the memories of people here. NC, during its tenure, didn’t even talk about AFSPA, forget about getting it repealed. Since it was the main regional party. Everything-right or wrong- must have something to do with it that is what people think regarding its tack record till date.

While, it is a fact that NC did pass the Autonomy Resolution after accepting State autonomy committee report which was later rejected by the Central Government stating that ‘clock can’t be reversed’ and because 1975 Indira-Abdullah Accord had laid down strict limits on the scope of constitutional review. But there is an interesting episode about how NC buried it’s autonomy resolution and reduced it to mere election sloganeering.

L.K Advani, in his autobiography, ‘My Country, My life’ states that, “He(Farooq  Abdullah) minces no words while explaining how the NC chewed up its demand. This was one occasion when both Atal ji and I (Advani) had to be very firm with the state.  CM (Farook Abdullah),whose National conference was in fact a part of ruling NDA at the centre. We advised him (Farooq Abdullah) not to press for the implementation of the state autonomy committee report”. He further writes that when Farooq Abdullah was asked to “bend” he “crawled” – “Indeed Atal ji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) told Farooq Abdullah to decide whether to continue in the NDA at the centre following the union cabinets rejection of the state assembly autonomy resolution .To his (Farook Abdullah) credit , Dr Farooq Abdullah allowed the issue to lapse”(My country, my life ,page 679).

Meanwhile, opposition, usually in any democratic setup, is healthy and vibrant for functioning of democratic process, providing people alternative arrangements. But here, most of the mainstream parties have a tendency to fiddle with the structural nuances and tend to create an impression of those in the power as ‘proxy’s of New Delhi’. Be it NC, INC, PDP, PC or Shah Faesal's People's movement- all have the tendency to do so to maintain the electoral hegemony in State politics.

While in power corridors NC projected Kashmir as an economic or employment problem and when in opposition, the same party tries to argue that the resolution of Kashmir issue was paramount to any other issue including economics.

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