People, a cynic once said, deserve the politicians they get. And on that count, the region called South Asia, it could be argued, has had it worse than other parts of the world. Consider the motley collection of feudal lords, caste satraps, rank musclemen and ‘agency plants’ that comprise a good section of ‘people’s representatives’. The lumpenisation of politics apart, another factor has compounded the malaise: that of politics increasingly becoming mere posturing in an age of constant, even deranged, media coverage. This whole mix often leads to scenes of chaos, fisticuffs and street brawls inside assemblies, both as a display of lumpenism and for photo-ops. The point of state assemblies, for example, like the Parliament, is the government being held accountable, answering questions, the Opposition playing its due role, apart from things like passing bills and suchlike. What was witnessed on the first two days of the autumn session of the assembly in J&K, however, seemed to exemplify the penchant of members to seek their moments of strutting and fretting on the stage, all the sound and fury signifying nothing.
In Kashmir the problems of the very construct and praxis of democracy are well known. But whatever the criticisms, and most of them valid, that one might have – that of the real power residing elsewhere in the state, of a military paradigm fundamentally reigning supreme – that still cannot detract from the fact that the members who call themselves the elected representatives of the people have a duty towards the latter. Whatever the situation, be it war, occupation, a state or emergency et al, this is not an age where questions of basic governance can be put aside or negated.
It is thus incumbent on the government, whichever party is in power, despite all the basic problems including core political issues, to fulfill their obligations. This cannot be done as a favour, a means of dispensing power and patronage to selected groups, and penalising other sections. Because that, in turn, furthers the charges of being a delegitimised political structure.