Akeel Rashid

Self-marginalization of mainstream politics in J&K

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The role of the politicians, if one goes with one of the agreed upon definitions of the term ‘politics’, is to govern directly or indirectly. More importantly, they (politicians) do not lose this criterion, whether being in power or not, unless they choose to do so. When one tries to analyze the role of politicians in Jammu and Kashmir against the backdrop of the aforementioned context, it becomes apparent that they are grossly misplaying their role, either deliberately or inadvertently. In our part of the world, no doubt governance is a direct affair for the politicians in power, while as the ‘out of power’ politicians, who should make it their indirect affair, can be seen fiddling with the line between public response and political response pertaining to a particular issue.

Since no political party is presently in power in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, politicians en masse are busy playing self-proclaimed “marginalized” roles by organizing protest demonstrations against a host of issues. Currently, the issue of highway restrictions has taken a centre stage in the state and the way politicians are responding to it is a classic example of how they have blurred the line between public responses and political responses with regards to approaching the issues confronting the state. Instead of coming up with alternatives, the politicians are sticking to their playbooks by articulating the mood of the people not to compromise their vote banks. The biggest problem with such an approach is that it reveals before the common masses what for them is the marginalization imposed by the national polity on mainstream politics in J&K. But in actuality it is self-marginalization. More to the point, the common people tend to avoid reposing faith and trust in mainstream politics as they see it being rendered marginalized, both regionally and nationally.

Read Also: Does political bartering imply to non-existence of ‘political will’ in JK?

Now, I will put forward certain facts which may settle the question of larger ‘public interest’ as to who draws the margins for mainstream politicians in J&K. First of all, let's go back to the days when Lok Sabha elections were being held across the country. The events that took place at that time are suggestive of how mainstream politicians, at present, are taking a guarded approach. During the LS polls, it seemed as though everything in Kashmir fell in place. The politicians had so much foresight and hindsight to offer to the people, but now the same politicians are approaching the problems in such a way that it becomes evident that they want to benefit from them (problems) later. Talking about the issue of highway restrictions in view of Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra, the politicians have, so far, failed to put forward any valid arguments which may compel the administration to rethink their decisions.

Read Also: The curious case of ‘political status-quo’ in JK

If the policymakers are responsible for taking certain decisions which are against the public interest, why don't politicians come up with a vision document or whatever they would like to call it so that the issue is resolved amicably? But- no- people have to stay disempowered so that their desperations can be exploited as and when it suits them. Most, if not all, of the political parties are doing what any other political party would do — registering the protests for political gain. But the politicians should bear one thing in mind:  giving voice to peoples frustrations is one thing and offering them real answers is quite another.

The author can be reached at akeelsofi@gmail.com and tweets @Akeel_rashid_

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