K B Jandial
In the recorded history of civilization and also in mythology (Hindu) only one and that too Lord Shiva had drunk the poison. Mehbooba Mufti perhaps wanted to be recorded in the history as another person to “drink poison” when she claimed at PDD’s 19th Foundation Day at Srinagar and then repeated it at Jammu, that she “drank the cup of poison” to continue out of compulsion in coalition with the BJP, following the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2016″. She said that she had to drink poison to form coalition with BJP out of compulsion in the larger interest of the State and to get the people out of the dismal conditions.
According to the most credible legend, Lord Vishnu suggested ‘sagar manthan’ (churning the ocean) and drink the Amrita (nectar of immortality) to regain the glory of Gods reeling under the curse of sage Durvasa. Accordingly, there was truce between the Gods and Demons to muster enough strength to help churning of ocean. It is believed that Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Kurma and stood below Mount Mandara watching the churning process. The ‘sagarmanthan’ brought various gems and other precious stones from the ocean and along with these produced a dangerous poison called ‘halahala’ that could have wiped out the entire creation. Gods, on the advice of Lord Vishnu, approached Lord Shiva for help and protection. Lord Shiva, out of compassion, agreed to swallow the poison but before the poison could go down his neck, His consort, Goddess Parvati, conscious of ill effects of ‘Halahala’ on Him, heldLord Shiva’s neck and prevented the poison to reach His stomach. The poison was struck in the neck that changed the colour of His neck.For it, He is also called Neelkantha. Thus, Lord Shiva saved the entire universe.
Now in Kaljug, Mehbooba Mufti too consumed “poison”. Was it produced during the’churning’ of the ongoing Kashmir situation?And she drank it to save whom? She herself said that she drank it to save her Govt by “continuing the alliance with BJP”, stitched by no other than her “daddy”. If continuing in power with BJP was really a ‘poison’ then why didn’t she end it instead consuming it? Tasaduq, her Bollywood returned new political star brother was emphatic when he had said that PDP in alliance with BJP was like “partner in crime”. This “partnership in crime” was revalidated just after securing resignation of two BJP Ministers- Ch. Lal Singh and Chander Parkash Ganga, for visiting the protest rally for CBI probe in to Rasana rape and murder 45 days earlier. With this, the need for drinking a cup of poison was over. In short, she drank poison frequently and continued in power till BJP pulled the rug under her feet on 19 June, 2018! Was her remaining in power that important that she preferred to drink poison frequently rather than ending the alliance?
Mufti Mohd Sayeed, a matured Kashmiri politician who was first and the only Kashmiri leader to occupy the most exalted position of Union Home Minister of India, had experimented to connect North Pole with South Pole. This ‘odd political linkage’ was celebrated and blessed by PM Modi himself at Jammu. Mehbooba, as PDP Chief, was too in the loop for this unnatural ‘marriage’ that brought, for the first time, BJP MLAs in to J&K Government. Ram Madhav described it “breaking the jinx.”Jammu had given overwhelming mandate to the BJP which pocketed 25 out of 37 seats of Jammu region besides one BJP rebel. Connecting Kashmir with Jammu had never been a tricky issue but still Kashmir made these democratically mandated BJP MLAs untouchable being part of RSS-Sangh Parivar due to decades of vicious campaign of hatred and suspicion against it that was heightened during the campaign for 2014 Assembly election.
Even NC did its best to exclude BJP from the Government and offered outside support of its 15 MLAs to PDP. Congress too followed suit. But Mufti Sayeed remained unruffled by these under currents and went ahead to stitch an alliance that primarily was political compulsion as Jammu’s mandate had to be respected for smooth functioning of the Govt. Kashmir’s mainstream politics had revolved around two arch rivals-NC and PDP, and it was never visualized that they could join hands to form Govt and deprive Jammu of rightful share in political power. Mufti Sahib, who had weathered many political storms in his life, didn’t reconcile to that proposition and went ahead to stitch an alliance with Jammu’s mandate (BJP), despite conscious of the alliance being unnatural. It was a compulsive political move.
After 3-month hard bargaining with BJP on Agenda of Alliance which was pro-Kashmir, Mufti formed this alliance Govt on March 1, 2015. He had thought that he would steer “North Pole -South Pole” alliance Govt ashore but he didn’t know that he had little time at his disposal and vacuum created with his death on January 7, 2016. Was his political move was so flawed or politically incorrect that he and his daughter had to swallow poison. It is a different matter that there is huge build up in Kashmir against Sangh Parivar/ RSS that this alliance couldn’t have gone well with the people. On the top of it, the Govt failed to deliver also.
Mehbooba, who stepped in to her “Daddy’s” shoes, agreed to continue the alliance after 3-month “manthan” and became CM on April 4, 2016. She did start her coalition Govt on a positive note by telling the people of Kashmir the bitter truth. She made correct and bold statements at public functions (many considered politically incorrect in Kashmir) including one at Anantnag in which she hailed Kashmir’s accession with India describing it as the best ever good thing happening to Kashmiri Muslims and credited it to Sheikh Abdullah. She drew the attention of the Kashmiris to the unfortunate happenings in Islamic countries including Pakistan. And still she had won Anantnag assembly seat with a record margin at bye-poll held a fortnight after this statement.
During her 26-month tenure as the first women CM of the Muslim majority State, Mehbooba had been praising Modi and his visions and declared that he alone can help solving problems of Kashmir. But at the same time, she almost parroted her basic ideological stand of pushing dialogue with Pakistan and separatists, saying that dialogue are the only way forward even when Pakistan spiked all peace overtures of India for peaceful relations. Last year, on July 29 at a New Delhi event, she had hailed late Indira Gandhi as an ideal representative of India but at the same time lavishly commended PM Modi as “the man of the moment”. She had said, “Modi has the potential to become the man of history and his leadership is an asset which needs to be harnessed. Our hopes are pinned on him to work together and bring Kashmir out of the mess.”
A month before BJP pulled the rug under her feet Mehbooba chose to lash out at Pakistan which she did very rarely. Addressing people after PM Modi dedicated the 330 MW Kishanganga Power Project to the nation, she had said, “When we have halted (security)operations, we expected (positive) response from Pakistan in view of the holy month of Ramzan. Till date, there was no response and on top of it they killed our five civilians and BSF jawan on border.” Thanking PM for announcing unilateral suspension of anti-militancy operations in Kashmir during Ramzan, Mehbooba said “it certainly is a big step which needed courage and Prime Minister has amply displayed that. Not only are the political parties but every person in the State are grateful to you (PM) for putting the balm on their wounds. She further said, “People here believe that it is he (PM) who took this bold step and it can only be him who has the strength to move on and take the people of Jammu and Kashmir out of the present situation.”
Lamenting Pakistan’s negative response to repeated Indian peace initiatives, she had said. “It has never happened in the history when Prime Minister of the big country goes to Pakistan. Earlier, you (Modi) invited them (Pakistan Prime Minister) for oath ceremony. Later, in 2016 when situation was very bad, Union Home Minister visited Pakistan. But unfortunately there was no positive response.” Even now, she has helped NDA during election of Rajya Sabha’s Deputy Chairman by abstaining in the crucial vote. Omar Abdullah described it as her “tactical support” to NDA. If her views were genuine (no reason to dispute) then where was the reason for her to “drink poison” during her Govt with BJP?
During this alliance, the BJP too has lost its base as the Govt was not only perceived to be pro Kashmir but also anti- Jammu. Mehbooba’s proud moment was perhaps her decision against CBI probe into despicable Rasana rape and murder case and creating impression that Jammu stood for “pro-rapist”. Her party’s diktat against removal of encroachments of tribals of State land too created impression of her being anti-Jammu. These two issues figured in the list of her achievements in favour of Muslims and Kashmir she dished out at the brief presser at Srinagar after BJP’s illogical withdrawal of support from her.
Does Mehbooba’s ‘poison’ have any analogy with the poison drunk by Lord Shiva? Absolutely none! Lord Shiva’s unique act of drinking ‘halahala’ was to save Gods and the universewhile Mehbooba’s “poison was nothing but sweet “political poison” to save her Govt and not to save Kashmiris from any impending catastrophe. There is nothing new in making ideological U-turns for political expediencies and assuming power. Why only she, all political leaders have been doing it. If that amounts to drinking “poison”then almost every party in India had drank “poison” and would continue to do so. NC drank it in 1999 when it joined BJP led NDA to induct Omar Abdullah as Central Minister. BJP drank it in 2015 when it aligned with soft-separatist PDP to come to power in J&K and kept aside all ideological ‘grandstanding’ like abrogation of Art 370, and became ‘partner-in-crime’ before SC supporting retention of Article 35A.
Mehbooba’s claim of “drinking (political) poison” is nothing but to seek sympathy of Kashmiris who had celebrated fall of her Govt with crackers, drinking of “poison” or nectar notwithstanding.
K B Jandial