It would be prudent for Mehbooba Mufti to not build a theology around her party’s imminent alliance with the BJP. The past 68 years have demonstrated that it is theoretically impossible for any pro-India party to formulate and implement any coherent agenda vis-a—vis relations with New Delhi. Her late father, as she confessed, learnt it very late in his life. Before she plunges into the time-tested cesspool of pro-India politics, two statements of India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley—one he made as opposition member and the other a few days ago in the backdrop of the JNU crackdown, which has a strong Kashmir connection—can serve as important lessons for her. During the 2010 anti-India uprising in J&K, many parliamentarians had suggested that offering restoration of semi-sovereignty that Kashmir once enjoyed could pave way for a lasting solution to Kashmir dispute. And some prominent journalists even went to the extent of asking India to set Kashmir free. However, in the spirit of his ideological forefather Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Jaitley said in Indian parliament that the Indian state’s energies have been expended in integrating Kashmir into India for the past 60 years. Even making such statements that call for reversing those efforts, he said, was ‘poor statecraft’. Given the current rightwing fervor, he would have dismissed such calls as ‘anti-national’.
Recently, during a programme on a TV channel, when he was attacked for the hypocritical policy of forging an alliance with PDP that called Afzal Guru’s hanging a ‘travesty of justice’ and the crackdown on JNU students for the ‘seditious’ sin of organizing an event on the same person’s death anniversary, Jaitley had said that such an alliance was important in containing secessionism in Kashmir. Jaitley’s two statements actually define a Kashmiri pro-India party’s role in the ‘statecraft’. He cogently spelled out PDP’s role in Kashmir—containing the dominant pro-independence sentiment. Now, on the face of it, PDP’s current—like NC, PDP’s politics has its seasons— political stand is primarily hinged on three things: resolution of Kashmir through a sustained Indo-Pak dialogue, engaging Kashmiri resistance groups in talks and giving Kashmir its due share of economic development. How does it intend to bring any of these objectives to fruition if its partner-to-be considers it as merely a counter to Hurriyat Conference? In such a scenario, PDP has two options. One, which it is likely to do, is to do Jaitley’s bidding. Second, rather than perception management through rhetoric, resist Jaitley’s hegemonic prescriptions. It is called resistance. Mehbooba is not used to it but there is no harm in trying it once.