Raouf Rasool

Political expediency and deliberate deceit!

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Thanks to the raging controversy about the Article 370, the two regional majors -- National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party -- otherwise facing political irrelevance, get an opportunity to engage in some rhetorical warfare every now and then. And they do without fail – blaming all but themselves for the continued dilution of the Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian Union.

True, this law has, over the years, lost much of its teeth. But more than anyone else, including the successive governments in New Delhi, it is the state governments here which are responsible for it. Without the support and connivance of the state governments, there is not much the Centre could have done to Article 370. Mind it, barring few years, it has been the NC which has ruled the state throughout. PDP also got couple of shots at power. So to be precise, three successive generations of Abdullahs and two successive Muftis have been in power here. So instead of blaming others, both these parties must look inwards to see their own complicity in bringing the situation to where it is now. Same is true for the Congress as well. It is equally guilty of not only diluting the Article 370 but also responsible for much of the troubles in Jammu and Kashmir.

They say the judgment of the ethics and means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment. So as long as the NC or PDP were ruling the state and Congress at the Centre, all they did to Kashmir was “for the welfare and betterment, progress and development” of the place and its peoples. But once they have been ousted out of power, they have suddenly realized the dangers Kashmir is faced with under the BJP rule. By the way both parties have during different points in time shared crumbs of power in alliance with the BJP too!

Notwithstanding what BJP says about Article 370, it cannot do much about it as it is not constitutionally and legally tenable. And the fallouts of such a move are certainly far weighty than any potential political benefits. Congress, NC and PDP know it better than anyone else. They know it that the law can be diluted through manipulations as has been done so far, but it cannot be out-rightly abrogated. Yet they are out in open speaking about the issue for their own political benefits. Actually none of them has any love lost for the Article 370.

Those who claim that this constitutional provision is responsible for the lack of development in Jammu and Kashmir -- they must look at the developmental indices elsewhere in Indian mainland where there is no Article 370 and yet the world’s poorest of the poor live there. Kashmir is certainly better off than most of these regions in India.

Coming back to the NC’s and PDP’s political claims in ‘defense’ of Article 370, they must grow up now. The era of Shiekh Abdullah or for that matter Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is gone. Farooq Abdullah’s clowning around too has lost its appeal. Omar Abdullah’s beautiful articulation on issues is nothing but impressive speechifying. Mehbooba Mufti’s angry tantrums – milk and toffee comments -- are too fresh in public memory.

The new generations in Kashmir who were born and have grown amidst the pornography of violence around them, and whose education and recreational pursuits have exposed them to the happenings from all over in today’s mediatized world, cannot be fooled into believing hollow claims and false promises. They do not identify with the so-called sacrifices of the party founders, which they are not able to corroborate from the books of history. They have seen each of these parties acting as mere extensions of New Delhi and obediently carrying out the orders of their masters with complete disregard for the local sensitivities and sensibilities. So they have no reason to buy into their claims -- “our stance is 100 percent statement of justice for the people of Kashmir and 100 percent denunciation of the role of New Delhi!”

They know nothing is black and white. Neither NC nor PDP could claim that their history, their cause and their being are allied with the angels; and that their adversaries are evil, tied to the Devil. They must know that deliberate omission of their own history may be dictated by their political expediency, but for the common people it is deliberate deceit!

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