Politics for Power?

Politics for Power?

Be it the statements against the extant political dispensation and its omissions and commissions or the statements peculiar to the politics of Kashmir, the National Conference(NC) appears to be making the right noises these days. All this appears to suggest that the grand old party of Kashmir is either undergoing a makeover or reviewing its approach to politics. But, apparently, the context to this rhetorical slugfest is the by poll for two seats of the Parliament that is slated to be held in Kashmir soon. In this sense then, the NC is posturing to maximize its vote or even seat share in Kashmir.  It is perhaps this very fact that has led to the stagnation of the party and the hollowing out of its politics. The National Conference which began as a movement for the articulation of Kashmiris’ rights- political, cultural, economic and social- gradually abdicated its cause and even role in the political history of Kashmir. It, like other parties, morphed into a patronage machine and sought to instrumentalize this for votes and power. Perhaps , its tepid activism for Greater Autonomy, best reflects this point. The party was and has been unable to really work towards this end and has made it into a rhetorical device. The party’s insipid politics ultimately created space for the emergence of another party- the Peoples Democratic Party- in Kashmir. This means that there exists a duopolistic political structure in Kashmir where two major parties slug it out for votes. While the vote share in Kashmir is a given and even a constant, the duopolistic structure means that Kashmir does not essentially retain its nature as the centre of gravity of politics from a “mainstream” perspective. Extra regional players- the Congress and the BJP- assume the role of king makers and as forces in government formation and even functioning. In other words, these parties become king makers. If merely government power is the end goal of the NC or even the PDP, then this ominous development means that both these parties can be played like a fiddle by extra regional powers or players. The major reason for this, to repeat, has been the abdication of real politics by the NC and the PDP. The attendant void has been filled by others. The implications for the politics of the state can only be ominous. If real power is lost, then the party platforms of Kashmir based “mainstream” political parties and their political philosophies  wilt and wither. That is, they get diluted, to say the least. In the final analysis, only those political forces will be organic and survive in Kashmir that connect to and articulate the aspirations of people. The rest will shrivel.

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