Any serious commentary on the politics of Kashmir tends to be disdainful of the political elite; and more than their ‘person’, of their politicizing the mundane for selfish ends. And there are reasons for it. At a place where even the bare essentials of life are packaged and passed on as favours to the common people, it is bound to be the cause of popular heart-ache and disdain. With elections round the corner, what we are witness to day-in and day-out is usually symbolic and superficial crowd pleasers, restricted to narrow political gains, and thus a poor disguise for the real business of politics — people-friendly service delivery.
This is evidenced by the fact that the successive governments here, led by major regional parties, despite pledging and promising a great deal to the people during electioneering, have ended up doing precious little after wresting power. And for this, they have hardly shown any remorse and regrets. On their part the common people too have been no different. They too have time and again been led into believing the emotive slogans and yet they have not evolved with the kind of political maturity that they should have get by now.
The successive governments, despite each one of them and on each occasion having promised to “change” the “rotten system” have squarely failed to bring about any change in the people’s wretched lives and life situations. With an eye on gross populism, the mainstream leaders have all along used emotional symbols as part of re-branding exercises so as to woo and fool people into believing that they are the cause, consequence and the reason for everything the state has, its politics and politicians, and the government. Indeed history of Kashmir is replete with innumerable instances and anecdotes that could be cited here to prove the point, and more so the power of the political symbolism that has been employed here time and again to lead people into believing into something which later on never really happened.
It is high time that politicians here, instead of banking on symbols and rhetorical speeches alone, start moving beyond them. For this all that is needed is political will and a realization that the ordinary people have been fooled for too long, and that now they must also be given a different frame of reference so that, at least, their general despise for the political class starts showing some signs of CHANGE. Those who have and still promises ‘change’ will have to change their attitudes and beliefs towards, and about the common people first. They will have to be appreciative of the people’s power, acknowledge that it is the vote or support of the ordinary which is the source of their power and reason for their privileges. Once there is change in thinking at the top, then only could one expect it to percolate down.
The ongoing slugfest between different regional players, besides so many other things also highlights the lacunae and loopholes in each party’s track-record in power when that particular party was in power. Unfortunate though, but it is also true that neither of the groups talking from high moral pedestal during the current spree of electioneering actually has a right to do so. The reason is that there is enough historical baggage with each one of them which belies which they claim and profess now, and pledge to do if voted to power.