Years of grandiose political posturing by the Peoples Democratic Party came to a definite end on Monday just as Mehbooba Mufti, the party’s co-founder took oath as chief minister of Jammu Kashmir.
Politically speaking, it is almost a sin to expect a ‘mainstream’ – more appropriately pro-India – political party of Kashmir to deliver on account of anything it may promise the people while riding on the most entrenched and deeply held desire of winning a chance to freely choose a collective political destiny. Before the arena of electoral politics was revived in 1996, using military methods, that desire had come to be the most well known fact about Kashmir worldwide. The revival of electoral politics as an adjunct to a military campaign was aimed to camouflage the ground reality in Kashmir. The older pro-India parties operating in Kashmir, like the National Conference, Congress and others, couldn’t meet the full scope of purposes the combination of militarism and electoral politics was deployed for in Kashmir. Even the remnants of Kashmiri sub-nationalism left in the NC by the mid-1990s sounded a danger for the State. Another political force amenable to electoral politics was desperately needed by the State to ensure that not even a streak of the meekest Kashmiri nationalism should enter the institutional structure available to the people after they openly rebelled against Indian rule.
First, the PDP came along as a party whose main aim ostensibly was to steal away an evolving language of resistance in Kashmir, some called it appropriation of separatist rhetoric. It was deception by way of a language heist. Just as that was achieved, the party under Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and daughter Mehbooba moved on to translating, or rather degrading political rights into restoration of basic human rights that stood and continue to be crushed under the jackboot. All this while the PDP enjoyed military protection for itself.
However, as some people bought into the party’s ‘healing touch’ and the mantra of ‘self-rule’ the PDP started believing its own rhetoric; perhaps hoping in the process that the popular desire for Azadi could be neutralised or replaced by intellectualising failed ideas that basically sought to change nothing. But the bigger slip for the party was that it started believing New Delhi could let it. The Muftis chose to conveniently overlook the fate of Abdullahs. Now that Mehbooba has finally landed on the same plane the PDP’s mainstream illusions should rest for good.