B L Saraf
There is nothing new about it.Text is the same but script has been modulated to suit the times. For some it is an art of possible: for others it is the management of impossibilities and for the remaining it is a craft perfected in manipulations and permutations. That is today’s politics which we mortals suffer , day in and day out. By the way, Politics was never known for a worthy definition. About it someone said, long ago ” Politics as a practice, whatever its profession, has been the systematic organization of hatreds.” Today’s politician has perfected the idiom of hatred so well, leaving no middle way .
Soon after independence , instead of disbanding it as advised by the Father of the Nation, Congress became the ruling party and adopted all tricks of the trade to retain power. In the process the party went on creating enemies – some real and mostly imaginary – amongst the people whom it considered political adversaries. INC dyed its cloak deep in the color of ” secularism and socialism ” to perpetuate itself in power and made a conscious effort to make enemies of the people whom it considered potential challengers. People rising to contest the party were shouted out as anti-minorities and reactionaries. Atmosphere was so created that political leaders who had given blood and life to the national cause were ostracized.
When political battle lines were drawn so sharp as to feel really threatened, the Congress and its camp followers (‘secularists ‘ and the ‘ liberals ‘) – created an enemy in BJP and those who opposed them. They were portrayed as anti -minorities and fascists. These force, though, never crowned themselves with glory when it came to ameliorate the plight of the minorities or other weaker sections of the society. As recent events narrates, these political elements took to the slogan of ‘minority protection ‘as an insurance cover to plunder the national wealth.
Tables were, however, turned, in 2014 when BJP ascended the throne in New Delhi .Now it is the turn of BJP and allied forces to return the compliment and perpetrate themselves at the helm. The party has found virtue in ‘ hyper-nationalism ‘ and dubbed all those as enemies of the nation who tried to challenge it. With the help of ‘ Nationalism ‘ slogan the ‘ nationalists ‘ have been successful in marginalizing all those for whom the ‘ secularism ‘ and liberalism ‘ rant was the bread and butter.
The political parties have become deft in using the convenient slogans as a ploy to divert attention from essential areas of governance. They would turn again and again to time worn themes for self propagation.
Given the complex nature of local politics, politicians in J &K took the game to the higher levels.They regularly created demons to beat one another. Some were made angles and co -opted in the unholy alliance . At times demons and the angles became interchangeable to suit the political convenience. Soon after aligning with India, in 1947, Sheikh Abdullah saw a schemer in Jawaharlal Nehru – his friend To Nehru Sheikh became a conspirator to take Kashmir away from India . Thereafter the business of creating foes and friends progressed well.
Sheikh Abdullah called off his self confessed ‘twenty two year’s purposeless wandering’ ditched the plebiscite slogan and joined the mainstream. He dangled ‘greater autonomy ‘ as a carrot to his followers and waved it as sword to his political opponents. He dubbed all as enemies who opposed the new slogan. Protection of Article 370 was his political mantra. Latter on ‘self rule’ became a byword for other crop of leaders who sought and got the Srinagar throne . For them any one who didn’t fall in line with the slogan became an enemy of the state .
In Jammu, meanwhile, quite opposed happened . Total integration and abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A became the standard yard stick to test ones nationalism. Any one not toeing the party line failed the test and was described as an enemy of the nation.
However, on closer scrutiny the business of manufacturing friends and foes looked farcical. There are many instances which reveal a ‘ fixed match ‘ syndrome on the political chess board. The protagonists and the abolitionists play a cat and mouse game to hood wink a common voter. There are number of instances which reveal their real intention.
It is well known that the protagonist of Article 370 did everything to emasculate its soul and render it a mere shell. On the face of it so many laws and regulations passed by the central legislating body were adopted to the state which, in true spirit of this Article, wouldn’t find a place here. The brazenness became so visible when the state leaders found virtue in such a legislation .
Sheikh Abdullah had no qualms in adopting 42nd Amendment of the Union Constitution which extended the life of Lok Sabah and state assemblies by year and allowed members of Assembly luxury of power and perks for one more year. While the mischief was undone in the rest of the country in 1977, the autonomy lovers in Kashmir conveniently forgot to reverse the position and bring it on par with pre- 1977 position.
The abolitionist make all right noises against Article 370. But when an opportunity comes they drag feet. Adjournments are sought in the Supreme Court which is currently seized of the matter, on the grounds; that Centre’s interlocutor is on the job which may get disturbed by raking up the issue ; ULB elections are on. then Lok Sabha elections was furnished as a reason to defer the trial. In the meanwhile the chorus to throw away this Article goes on, outside the court.
The political business of manufacturing enemies and crafting friends is on. One would like to leave this job to the politicians. But the business has assumed an ugly shape. Politicians may be fighting a mock battle but the misadventure has turned people of the state enemies of one another, in real terms. The dangerous trend must be averted and politics played on real issues. It is too dangerous a game to give a bad name to anyone who opposes a political party. Opposing a political party should never be equated with opposing the Nation. India Gandhi did it in later years of her rule and with the help of sycophants she tried to turn every challenge to her as an assault on India. That she, personally, and the nation had to pay heavily for the misadventure is now a forgettable part of our recent history.
Our endeavor must be to enlarge the number of nationalists in Kashmir. By describing an opponent to a political party as opponent of the Indian nation we are only shortening the list of those Kashmiris who still repose faith in India.
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)
B L Saraf