Not So ‘Aam’ “Aam Aadmis” In J&K Politics

Not So ‘Aam’ “Aam Aadmis” In J&K Politics

20 December 2013
Greater Kashmir
Junaid Azim Mattu

Srinagar: Kashmiri politicians, from opposition benches, “third” and thirty-third fronts as well as some apparently sinless political purists, are parachuting in from all directions to fill in the space of the “Aam Aadmi” in our State. This comes a week or so after they excitedly started tripping over each other in claiming the exclusive moral right to congratulate Arvind Kejriwal and drawing self-venerating parallels between themselves and the crusaders of the Aam Aadmi in Delhi. Some even complained that the media in our State wasn’t as supportive and objective as was the case in Delhi – suggesting that it is the media’s job to support tall, vainglorious rhetoric at the cost of reality. There are so many interesting dramas being enacted with such hair-raising rhetoric. Here you have the main opposition party comparing itself to Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party and there you have sermonizing Johnny-come-latelies calling themselves “fresh-faces” and seeking individual moral copyrights on the spirit to effect change in the same political system that they have been a part and parcel of, in different shapes and shadows. PDP patron and founder, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed recently suggested that J&K had scripted its “Aam Aadmi Moment” in 2002 when the PDP came to power in J&K. This comes days after PDP revealed that it would consider elections “fair” in J&K only and only in instances where PDP came out victorious. By those standards, 2002 elections where PDP bagged 16 seats were “fair” because PDP formed the government. However, 2008 elections where PDP went on to bag 21 seats were “unfair” since PDP was kept out. First – Mufti Sahab’s claim on Aam-Aadmi-ness is laughable if it wasn’t so out rightly outrageous. PDP came into being by bringing together conventional, old hands in politics who were either driven out of other parties or left them for their personal ambitions. How on earth do “PDP’s 16” in 2002 qualify to be “Aam” – so that they could have defined “J&K’s Aam Aadmi moment” in 2002 as claimed by Mufti Sahab? Some of those “Aam Aadmis” are worth hundreds and crores of rupees. Some of those “Aam Aadmis” have thriving business empires. Some of PDP’s “Aam Aadmis” are the sons of former politicians and some are retired bureaucrats who have questionable records of corruption at their back. And honoring poetic justice, they all came together under an “Aam Admi” who is the former Federal Home Minister and Tourism Minister of India and has been in and out of Congress thrice in his past. Which facet of this story is comparable to the rise of the “aam aadmi” in Delhi? Then you have the curious case of our Johnny-come-latelies who are condemning all political parties to the dungeons of traditionalism and disservice right, left and center. They too have lunged forward to “felicitate” the Aam Aadmi Party while grudging the local media of not being supportive enough of their ‘revolution of rhetoric’. By the standard of their own hoarse rhetoric, one does not qualify to be an “Aam Aadmi” while coming into politics from the familial route and one certainly doesn’t not qualify to be a fresh alternative after being in politics for decades and after having forged alliances – overt and covert – with all “traditional” forces in the State at different junctures. History, they need to be told does not start in 1989. J&K has gone through a phase of violence, destruction and chaos not because of any single political party – but because of a political sentiment and because of the failure of our political system to deal with that sentiment effectively, maturely and convincingly. When PDP alleges that the turmoil was solely a consequence of the way the 1987 elections were handled, they are trivializing the people of this State and belittling their political aspirations. You cannot belittle a people by consciously misinterpreting their aspirations or their grievances and then go on and claim to be the defining light of the “aam aadmi” in J&K. Mufti Sahab has been a more perennial feature of the same system– in his capacity as a senior cabinet minister in Delhi on two separate occasions, in his capacity as the President of Congress in J&K (including in 1987 – when he alleges that NC rigged the elections). How can Mufti Sahab now posture as a rebel against the same system? Mufti Sahab, in an interview, had once blamed Rajiv Gandhi for the mess in Kashmir and held him responsible for ordering the rigging of 1987. That was after Mufti Sahab had joined and left the Congress multiple times. He is also on record to having stated that a life-long opposition to National Conference has guided his politics. That was the reason for his departure from the Congress at every juncture in history when Congress and NC joined hands. So what is to say that the same guile of unconditional opposition to NC will not make BJP an acceptable friend in 2014? Which part of this history and this reality is comparable to the “aam aadmi” revolution in Delhi? (Junaid Azim Mattu belongs to National Conference. Views are personal.)