Time to learn lessons

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“Justice without power is impotent; power without justice is tyranny.” This is what the Peoples Democratic Party has been told loud and clear by the Valley’s electorate. And by the way, had separatists not called for and campaigned for election boycott, the message would have been even louder. In coming days, the chances are that explanations will be invented and culpability of so many actors articulated to explain the electoral verdict, but wisdom lies in accepting the defeat with humility and acknowledging its own follies. Needless to say that the attempts to talk about the disqualifications of BJP to shift the focus from its own shortcomings never really had any chance of striking any chord with the common masses here. Overconfidence about itself without giving a damn to the public sensitivities and sentiment did cost PDP not only its electoral arithmetic but face as well. Now it remains to be seen how the party articulates its debacle, which, it goes without saying, owes primarily to its own “arrogance of power” than to anything triumphant NC or BJP may have engineered.

As for the NC, all one could say is that their clean sweep in Valley is not an end in itself. In fact political prudence lies in this party, instead of gloating about its victory, takes it as a beginning of yet another opportunity to translate its promises into practical action so as to lend itself the character, poise and position of a powerful regional player representing the regional aspirations, and unlike in the past, not just be content playing second fiddle to a national party for which Kashmir never has, and would never really be any priority. How NC fares on its pre-poll promises in post-poll situation from now until the Assembly elections later this year will largely determine its future here. Choice is with it. It can either choose to enjoy the proud moments proudly and barter away ‘people’s trust’ for the crumbs of power, or it could consolidate its mandate and lift itself by its bootstraps.

In ‘The Federalist Papers’, Alexander Hamilton says: “What is a power, but the ability or faculty of doing a thing?  What is the ability to do a thing, but the power of employing the ‘means’ necessary to its execution?” NC needs to remember that in order to do a thing well, all that is needed is power and competence. It needs to learn some lessons not only from its past mistakes, but also from those of its main adversary – PDP — which has been pushed to margins within no time after losing power. PDP had all the power at its disposal, but lack of competence proved its biggest undoing. Unless power is combined with competence, it is ‘impotent’ and ultimately leads to tyranny.

By now people of Kashmir have attained higher degrees of political maturity – so much so that they are no longer impressed by the hollow claims and slogans of so-called “historic initiatives” and “landmark decisions”. They are not moved by the so-called ‘sacrifices’ of a particular party either, which actually do not gel with their psychological and experiential landscapes. This place has grown beyond those “ideological generations” which would be led astray by emotive slogans. Had it not been so, then so-called “vision” of PDP founders and its “historic initiatives” and would certainly not have handed it a historic defeat!

Using social media to comment on everything from Indian cricket to actress Zaira Wasim’s career choices while conveniently skipping to talk about the glaring problems happening in one’s own front and backyards, doesn’t work. Nor do appealing to the so-called legacy of fathers and founders and the like help. People are mature enough to read through the acts of political deceit and unruly arrogance. They know how to differentiate between the chicken shit and the chicken salad. Those undermining people’s intellect and political wisdom must have learnt their lessons – though it came very hard way. Let’s see what are the inferences they draw, and then, if and how the same are translated into the corrected political behaviour.

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