Jaundiced and Doomed?

Jaundiced and Doomed?

The Indian National Congress (INC) has constituted a policy-planning group for Jammu and Kashmir. According to the party statement, the group was constituted by congress president, Sonia Gandhi. Nine leaders of the congress including Dr Manmohan Singh will be aiming to hold dialogue with all stakeholders and help towards peace building in the state.  It is almost tempting to yawn at this initiative of the Congress party. The reasons for jaundiced cynicism are manifold. First, the Congress party is in the midst of both stasis and decline. Unless something dramatic happens, the  party’s political fortunes are ebbing by the day. Second, even if the party were not in the midst of structural decline, it is out of power; given this very fact, what traction would the party’s so called initiative old? Very little is the response. Third, these kinds of panels have been forged in the past with no little or almost nothing to show, on the ground, so to speak. Fourth, the panel is a mono-cultural forum where there’s only a couple of Kashmiris on board. These “on board” Kashmiris operate and “play” their politics in the cocoon of “ mainstream” politics and hence their perspectives will necessarily be slanted and limited. All these natural constraints add up to blunt the “initiative”. In essence, if the past is any guide, the Congress forum will be in the nature of a “talk shop”. In a sad twist, Kashmir has , because of the conflict, spawned an industry of “ talk shops” where people speak, dine and use these forums as networking platforms. No real or substantive effects or even action has accrued from these from these forums and panels. One other Achilles’ heel of these forums and panels is that states- key parties to the conflict over Kashmir- and peoples, the significant party to the conflict in Kashmir, are not involved. This is a structural and conceptual flaw. Unless and until, the states which are in conflict over Kashmir, India and Pakistan , do not sit and talk and until the peoples of Kashmir are not party to these parleys, nothing will happen. This is the prosaic reality over which such forums flounder, among other things. In all likelihood then, the Congress panel, will talk, discuss, dine and the so called “initiative” , like others preceding it, will be relegated to dusty shelves of party offices.

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