Srinagar: Swearing-in of Jammu and Kashmir’s first woman chief minister was marked by indifference matched in coldness only by the damp, chilly weather in the Valley, PDP’s constituency.
Not a firecracker was burst anywhere in the Valley, or south Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti’s home turf. There were no celebrations even at PDP offices.
Before 1990, pageantry was part and parcel of the pro-India politics in Kashmir, like in Indian states.
However, the pomp and show gradually disappeared for six years till 1996, when the elections were held after a gap of six years.
But political activities and celebrations, mainly during election time, were a low-key affair, restricted to hoisting of buntings and flags by paid workers during nights under the watch of police or paramilitary troopers.
Pageantry faded from the scene also because pro-India politicians repeatedly described themselves to the hapless electorate as ‘merely the drivers of development’, a strategy aimed at wooing the rebellious population towards polling centres and to give people a feeling that they were not betraying the freedom struggle by voting. It worked.
Over the years, especially after the formation of PDP, pro-India politics became assertive. This assertiveness also manifested in bigger public rallies, louder electioneering and celebrations. Mehbooba played an important role in this transformation. So why the muted coldness to her ascent to the chair?
It is not hard to find the reasons, given how pro-India politics has essentially been a story of betrayals and incompetence. However, in the immediate case, people have realised that only BJP has the reason to celebrate because the saffron party brought to her knees a woman whom they never tired of calling pro-Pakistani separatist.
Also, if there really were a cause for celebration, two of her senior party colleagues would not have been calling each other ‘chameleon’ and ‘collaborators’ while she was asking the council of ministers to make her late father’s ‘vision’ a guiding principle.